Mennonite Evangelizing Board of America
Mennonite Evangelizing Board of America, the first mission board of the Mennonite Church (MC), was organized at the Salem Church south of Elkhart, IN, on 20 January 1892 as the successor to the Evangelizing Committee which had been organized 13 October 1882. The constitution read: "The object of this organization shall be to collect means and maintain a treasury for the purpose of carrying on a general missionary work." The money was to be used to send men wherever needed, "but especially among scattered members of the church, and churches not supplied at all or unsufficiently supplied with laborers." Whereas the Evangelizing Committee had been composed solely of local men in Elkhart County, the new board was to be general, with representatives invited from all the Mennonite and Amish conferences in sympathy with the work. Headquarters, however, were to continue at Elkhart. To begin with, fourteen members were "elected" from Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska. The officers were F. W. Brunk president, Herman Yoder vice-president, A. B. Kolb secretary, Josiah Sommers treasurer, all laymen, and all from the Elkhart and Goshen area. In 1894 G. L. Bender was elected treasurer, to begin his long career of treasurer and chief executive officer of the central mission organization of the church. At the annual meeting held on 7 October 1896, the name of the board was changed to Mennonite Evangelizing and Benevolent Board, to indicate a merger with the Benevolent Organization of Mennonites, which had been incorporated in Indiana on 23 April 1894, "to support, maintain, and carry on Home and Foreign Missions, Hospitals, Orphans' Homes, Training Schools for the Education of Nurses, Deaconesses and Bible Students," also with headquarters at Elkhart, and considerable overlapping of membership. The new Mennonite Evangelizing and Benevolent Board was now incorporated. The first act of the new board was to "accept" the Chicago Home Mission, which had been started as an independent work in 1893. This launched the board on a direct mission career. Its first foreign mission project was the establishment of a mission in India, J. A. Ressler, and W. B. Page and his wife going out in 1899. The mission was located in Dhamtari.
The Home and Foreign Relief Commission, which was organized in 1897, a committee under the Mennonite Evangelizing and Benevolent Board, withdrew from the parent organization and organized itself independently on 22 November 1897. It continued in existence as a companion organization to the Board until 1906-1907, when the latter became the Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities. Its chief work was to send relief to India in 1897-1898 and support famine orphans in India in the years immediately following.
The final stage of organization of the Mennonite Evangelizing and Benevolent Board was the merger with the Mennonite Board of Charitable Homes and Missions at a joint meeting of the two boards at Rittman, Ohio, on 22 May 1906. Thus at last the general mission and charitable organizations of the church were unified and a strong and broad base created for the expanding work of the Mennonite Church in these fields. Officers of the Evangelizing and Benevolent Board in 1896-1906 were A. B. Kolb president to 1905, J. K. Hartzler, Daniel Shenk, A. R. Zook successive vice-presidents, the latter 1900-5, C. K. Hostetler secretary to 1905, except for the first year when G. L. Bender served, G. L. Bender treasurer throughout except for the first year when C. K. Hostetler was treasurer. In 1925, in preparation for the merger, the following officers were chosen: J. S. Shoemaker president, D. S. Yoder vice-president, I. R. Detweiler secretary, G. L. Bender treasurer.
The minutes of the Board to and including 1897 were reprinted in the Gospel Herald for (11, 18, and 25 March, 1952): 254-257, 278-280, 302.
Hartzler, Levi. A Brief History of Mennonite Missions. Elkhart, IN, 1955.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, pp. 621-622. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Bender, Harold S. "Mennonite Evangelizing Board of America." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 18 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/M46667.html.
APA style: Bender, Harold S. (1957). Mennonite Evangelizing Board of America. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/M46667.html.