Missionary Meetings, which served the purpose of awakening and reviving a missionary spirit, were held regularly in the Mennonite churches in America, South Germany, West Prussia, and Switzerland. In 1830 a meeting of this kind was held in Heubuden (Danzig). Since 1817 the West Prussian Mennonites had been supporting Protestant missionaries with regular contributions and private gifts (Mennonitische Blätter 1856, 55). When the Dutch Mennonite Mission Association was organized in 1847, the interest of German Mennonite friends of missions was soon turned to it. In the annual missionary meetings of the West Prussian churches this fact found lively expression in sermons and addresses. These meetings were well attended (Mennonitische Blätter, 1877, 66) and continued down into the 20th century.
The Mennonites of Russia also gathered for missionary meetings from an early period. On 4 October 1857, "our this year's missionary meeting was held at Berdyansk" (Mennonitische Blätter, 1858, 18). Thus they became important in the life of the church.
Somewhat later missionary meetings were organized in South Germany. The initial impulse came from America. At the meeting of the General Conference Mennonite Church at Wadsworth, Ohio in December 1876, it was proposed that annual missionary conferences be held to support the newly established foreign mission. The plan was carried out. In the 1950s such meetings were very frequent in the Mennonite churches of America. Some were quarterly (e.g., West Liberty, Ohio, Mennonite Church), some semiannual, some annual. Some have been carried on for several decades.
In Switzerland the first known missionary meeting was held in the Emmental on 9 March 1890. Two years later the congregation of Giebelstadt-Würzburg followed its example and held such a meeting annually on a Catholic holiday. The farewell service for the outgoing missionaries, P. Lowen and his wife, and Peter Nachtigall with his wife, in 1911 in Würzburg became an inspirational celebration. Thereupon it was decided at the following meeting of the preachers of the conference of Baden and Hesse to hold a mission meeting annually. The first took place in Monsheim on 1 May 1913. After it was held alternately in Monsheim and Kaiserslautern. The Gemeindeverband of Baden, Bavaria, and Wurttemberg conducted such meetings in Heilbronn after 1915. A similar meeting was held annually on the Deutschhof near Bergzabern until World War II.
Great blessing resulted from these meetings; they not only benefited foreign missions, but also served to strengthen and revive the home churches.
See also Angas, William Henry
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: III: 142.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 711. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Neff, Christian. "Missionary Meetings." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 19 June 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/M57863.html.
APA style: Neff, Christian. (1957). Missionary Meetings. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 19 June 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/M57863.html.