Southern District of Mennonite Brethren Churches (United States Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches)
Southern District Conference of the Mennonite Brethren Church of North America was organized in 1909, comprising the churches of Kansas, Oklahoma, and California. The California churches, however, withdrew the following year and organized their own conference. The first convention of the Southern District was held in 1910 in the Ebenezer Church near Buhler, Kansas, with Johann Foth chairman, Martin M. Just vice-chairman, and Abraham L. Schellenberg secretary.
The purpose for the organization of the district conferences was to stress chiefly the home mission work and evangelism in the churches. At its organization this Conference had a membership of 2,100 with a total of 21 churches. The Colorado and Texas churches soon were added to the Southern District.
A number of leaders made valuable contributions in the early days of the Conference. Among these were Johann Foth, Martin M. Just, Heinrich Adrian, and Abraham Schellenberg. Later leaders include H. W. Lohrenz, H. H. Flaming, P. E. Nickel, J. K. Hiebert, P. P. Rempel, J. S. Regier, and P. C. Hiebert. Soon the sphere of labor of the conference expanded. Home mission work occupied the chief attention and called for the greatest efforts on the part of the Home Missions Committee. A Committee of Reference and Counsel was created and charged with looking after the spiritual welfare of the Conference and assisted the individual churches in the event of difficult problems. The evangelism project for the churches was another important factor to which much emphasis was given. The Home Missions Committee secured qualified evangelists and presented them to the churches for engagement.
A third project of the Conference is extension work. At first this work was confined to the fringe areas of the churches. In 1936 the Conference opened a field of mission work in Texas along the Mexican border with Mr. and Mrs. Harry Neufeld as missionaries. Other stations have been created there since, and also in Arkansas and Wichita missionary projects are carried on with good success.
Although a General Conference project, Tabor College is located in the Southern District, and the Oklahoma churches support a full four-year academy at Corn with a strong Bible department. A church school committee promotes the Sunday-school work as well as the religious education work of this district, and a youth committee has charge of the Christian fellowship work and the youth retreat.
In 1947 a constitution was adopted and in 1948 the Conference was incorporated in Kansas. Thirty-five churches belong to the Conference (1956) with a total membership of 4,763. -- P. H. Berg
In 1987 the Southern District Conference (Mennonite Brethren) consisted of 40 congregations in the following states: Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Texas, and Arkansas. In 1960 the Krimmer Mennonite Brethren Churches in these five states joined the Southern District Conference through merger. The total membership of the Southern District in 1987 was 6,598.
The Southern District Conference had five commissions: Stewardship; Youth; Church Extension and Evangelism; Christian Education; and Faith and Life. They were coordinated through a Coordinating Board, an executive committee, and a district minister.
In addition to the commissions there is an active Women's Missionary Service organization. Tabor College, a regional Christian liberal arts college, was owned by four districts: Southern, Central, Latin American, and North Carolina districts. The Tabor College Senate, with representatives from the churches of the four districts, operated the college. The college made annual reports to the four district conferences.
Other Southern District ministries were managed through cooperative arrangements with the United States Conference of the Mennonite Brethren and the General Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches in North America. The records of the Southern District Conference are housed in the archival center at the Center for Mennonite Brethren Studies at Tabor College. The Southern District Conference maintained an office in Hillsboro, Kansas. -- Wesley Prieb
In 2010 the following congregations were members of the Southern District Conference:
Mennonite Brethren General Conference Yearbook (1981): 174, 192-195.
Address: 7348 W 21st Street, Suite 115, Wichita KS 67205-1765
Web site: http://www.usmb.org/southern
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 588-589; vol. 5, pp. 847-848. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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To cite this page:
MLA style: Berg, P. H. and Wesley Prieb. "Southern District of Mennonite Brethren Churches (United States Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. June 2010. Web. 25 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/S6780.html.
APA style: Berg, P. H. and Wesley Prieb. (June 2010). Southern District of Mennonite Brethren Churches (United States Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 25 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/S6780.html.