Christian Workers' Conference
Christian Workers' Conference was the name applied to the Mennonite Church (MC) district conference meetings formerly known as the Sunday School Conference and in Ohio for a number of years as the Sunday School and Young People's Meeting Conference. In both the Ohio and the Indiana-Michigan conference districts the "Sunday School Conference" became the Christian Workers' Conference in 1943.
Before 1921 a number of Mennonite Church (MC) congregations in Central Kansas held an annual Christian Workers' Conference over the Easter weekend. In 1921 this conference was held at Larned, Kansas, with good attendance and interest. In 1922 the Missouri-Kansas Conference, where lay delegates had equal voice in conference with ministers, voted to encourage Christian Workers' conferences under certain conditions. In that year at the same place a Sunday School Conference, a Young People's Conference, and a Missions Conference, each with separate sessions, followed successively at the close of the church conference. In 1923 "Christian Workers' Conference" was used as a covering name and organization for these three conferences but each retained its separate name and sessions. In subsequent years these subsidiary conferences were held, sometimes before the church conference, under the title "Christian Workers' Conference" or sometimes merely "Workers' Conference" but the various interests retained their special designation. In the 1940s other special interests were included under the Christian Workers' Conference—Teachers' Conference (1941), Sewing Circle Conference (1941), The Christian Home Conference (1941), Christian Life Conference (1942), and also a Civilian Public Service Program (1942), Marriage and Home Conference (1943), and Christian Education Conference (1943).
After the organization of the Commission for Christian Education and Young People's Work, the South Central Conference elected a Christian Education Cabinet to plan the activities formerly included under the Christian Workers' Conference. In most districts this conference replaced the Sunday School Conference.
The term "Christian Worker" was used much earlier, however, in the title, The Christian Worker's Manual, the general title of a projected series of three booklets "The Ministry," "The Sunday School," and "Missions." The publication was authorized by Mennonite Church General Conference in 1911 and "The Sunday School" was published in 1913. The Christian Worker also is the title of a book by Daniel Kauffman published in 1922 under the auspices of the Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities. A "Workers' Meeting," a combination of Sunday-school meeting, harvest meeting, and evangelism, was held in the Ephrata Mennonite Church over the Labor Day weekend, 3-5 September 1927.
Until the mid-20th century the Central Illinois Conference made the most extensive use of the term "Christian Workers." In the December 1910 issue of The Christian Evangel, the editor began a new feature, "Christian Workers' Section." This was continued and amplified in succeeding issues to include personal work, Christian Endeavor topics, and the Sunday- school lessons. In 1912 the editor of the Evangel, A. B. Rutt, was one of the speakers at the first annual "Soul-Winning Conference for Christian Workers," an interdenominational venture held at the Euclid Avenue Baptist Church in St. Louis, Missouri He also gave an address in the closing session of the second conference held at the same place in January 1913. Beginning in January 1917 the Central Illinois Conference of Mennonites annually held a Christian Workers' Conference. This was in addition to and separate from the annual church conference held in August each year. In January 1919, this conference devoted one day each to missions, Sunday school and young people, education, pastoral work, and denominational interests. The conferences consisted chiefly of inspirational addresses. By 1925 when the young people requested course instruction in various subjects the Christian Workers' Conference was replaced by the Christian Workers' Institute. In 1926 a committee was appointed to outline courses.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, pp. 583-584. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Umble, John S. "Christian Workers' Conference ." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 18 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/C48105.html.
APA style: Umble, John S. (1953). Christian Workers' Conference . Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/C48105.html.