Board of Foreign Missions (Mennonite Brethren Church of North America)
Board of Foreign Missions of the Mennonite Brethren Church of North America had its beginning in 1885 when that conference elected a "missions committee" to take over the responsibility for, and centralize the gathering of moneys for foreign missions and disburse them according to annual conference resolutions. Prior to this the treasurers of the various congregations reported such funds to the conference. The missions committee consisting of eight or more members had an executive section, made up of the chairman, secretary, and treasurer, which carried on the work. In 1896 the conference sought to facilitate the foreign missions endeavor by electing a "Committee on Foreign Missions," consisting of only five members. In addition to handling funds for foreign missions, this committee was given the responsibility of receiving and examining the candidates applying to the conference for foreign missions service.
When the Mennonite Brethren Conference which had been incorporated in 1900 under the name "The American Brethren Mission Union" had its charter amended in 1909, changing the name to "The Conference of the Mennonite Brethren Church of North America," and extending the scope of its activities, it also provided a more complete constitution which defined and enumerated the duties and powers of the "Board" of Foreign Missions.
The five members of the Board of Foreign Missions were elected for a three-year term by the regular triennial session of the General Mennonite Brethren Conference. After election the new board met for organization, electing a chairman, two assistant chairmen, a recording secretary, and the executive secretary and treasurer. The duties of each member were defined in the constitution.
Since the Board of Foreign Missions was an elected committee of the General Mennonite Brethren Conference vested with the responsibility of looking after its foreign missions enterprise, it was directly responsible to the conference itself. At the triennial meeting, the board presented a complete report of the foreign missions activities, policies and principles pursued, standing of the treasury, extent of the fields, number and status of the missionaries, budgets and recommendations to the conference for consideration and action. Each of the district conferences received an annual report from the Board of Foreign Missions. Although the district conference delegates had the right to inquire for information as well as to offer suggestions, they were not vested with the right to pass resolutions directly to the board. These came by way of resolutions to the general conference.
Historically and in view of the importance placed upon the evangelization of the heathen, the conference rather consistently chose members for the Board of Foreign Missions from among the most outstanding leaders of the constituency, as for example Cornelius Wedel, Abraham Schellenberg, Heinrich Voth, N. N. Hiebert, H. S. Voth, J. H. Pankratz, H. W. Lohrenz, and others.
The areas of the board’s work were three as given below.
(a) Geographic. Geographically the Gospel work entrusted by the Saviour, Jesus Christ, to the Mennonite Brethren Conference was through the direction of its Board of Foreign Missions, and through the services of its missionaries and its national workers carried to the Comanche Indians and Mexicans of Oklahoma, to Hyderabad State of India, to Fukien, Kansu and Shensi provinces of China, to the Belgian Congo of Africa, to the Chaco Indians of Paraguay, to the Valle and Choco departments of Colombia, and to the Parana State of Brazil.
(b) Divisional. Divisionally the work was done in four areas: (1) evangelization in the villages and the establishment and nurture of indigenous churches; (2) education, in operating elementary, middle, secondary, and Bible schools for the nationals; (3) medical service, by operating hospitals, clinics, and dispensaries; (4) publication, by supplying Christian literature, school books, Sunday-school materials, music, and periodicals in the native languages.
(c) Functional. Functionally the board labored in the following areas: promoting the spiritual importance and interest in foreign missions within the conference; fostering sacrificial giving for missions; appealing for, selecting, accepting, processing, and sending out of missionaries; keeping in constant contact, encouraging, and maintaining from mission funds the missionary enterprises and the missionaries whether in active service or retired; providing principles, policies, and methods for the missions endeavor; and providing printed material on its foreign missions for church papers, and in the form of reports, maps, pamphlets, and books.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, pp. 374-375. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
©1996-2013 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.
MLA style: Janzen, A. E. "Board of Foreign Missions (Mennonite Brethren Church of North America)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 21 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/B607.html.
APA style: Janzen, A. E. (1953). Board of Foreign Missions (Mennonite Brethren Church of North America). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 21 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/B607.html.