Shenk, Alta Barge (1912-1969)

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The daughter of Witmer and Elnora (Ebenshade) Barge, Alta Barge (born 24 March 1912, died 21 July 1969) married J. Clyde Shenk on 14 August 1935; in July of the next year, they sailed to Tanganyika (Tanzania). In addition to parenting five children (David, Joseph, Anna Kathryn, John, Daniel), Alta was active in opening three mission stations with the Eastern Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities (MC). During their 33rd year in Africa, she died in a plane crash near Nairobi, Kenya.

Through language study, Bible study sessions with women or girls, visits to homes, supervision of Bible instruction in church schools, beginner and advanced reading classes, dispensing medicines, or teaching sewing classes, Alta knew strength through prayer. She knew subjected and abused women; she regretted when young girls were sold or married to old men. She wrote about both evil and Holy Spirit activity among people. With trust in her own children, she attended to their varied needs. To suggest that her life blended into the background would be unfortunate.


Africa Circle Letters, letters from Eastern Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities Africa workers that were mimeographed and sent to their friends every 6-8 weeks, copies at Mennonite Historical Library (Goshen, Indiana, USA) and EMBMC (Salunga, Pennsylvania, USA).

Anchak, George Ronald. "An Experience in the Paradox of Indigenous Church Building: A History of the Eastern Mennonite Mission in Tanganyika 1934-1961." PhD dissertation, Michigan State University, 1975.

Hess, Mahlon M. "'Chips of Gold' in Memory of Alta B. Shenk." Missionary Messenger 46, no. 9 (January 1970): 6-9.

Author(s) Dorothy Yoder Nyce
Date Published 1990

Cite This Article

MLA style

Nyce, Dorothy Yoder. "Shenk, Alta Barge (1912-1969)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1990. Web. 21 Apr 2018.,_Alta_Barge_(1912-1969)&oldid=110997.

APA style

Nyce, Dorothy Yoder. (1990). Shenk, Alta Barge (1912-1969). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 21 April 2018, from,_Alta_Barge_(1912-1969)&oldid=110997.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p. 819. All rights reserved.

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