Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta


1998 Annual General Meeting

14 November 1998
Coaldale Mennonite Brethren Church
Coaldale, Alberta

First Mennonite Church welcomed the Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta to meet at their church on 14 November. Our AGM coincided with a series of lectures given by Dr. John B. Toews of Regent College, Vancouver. This gave persons interested in Mennonite History another reason for visiting Coaldale on the second weekend in November. As a society, the MHSA was pleased to be part of this occasion.

Tour of the Coaldale Museum
The site of the Museum is the old meeting place of the Coaldale Mennonite Brethren Church. Mary Goertzen and Helen Toews prepared a collage of historical pictures, explained what progress had been made to date and shared their optimism for the future. Apart from serving as the Town Museum, it will also serve as a cultural centre for the community.

Annual General Meeting
Anne Neufeld welcomed the 30+ persons who came to the meeting and the Interim executive committee (Henry Goerzen, Peter Penner, Harold Friesen, Irene Klassen & Richard Harder) led the meeting.

History as God and Man Interacting
Henry Goerzen, as interim Chair, addressed the group with on the theme of history as God and man interacting and challenged the group to measure up to the mandate as laid down in the MHSA bylaws.

The draft Bylaws as were published in our fall newsletter were discussed in detail and amendments were made. By consensus, the group determined that the 1998-99 Executive will prepare revise the Bylaws in correspondence with the discussion.

What History We Do and How?
Peter Penner presented a number of his thoughts on this topic.

  • He urged everyone to make their records (e.g. photographs, videos, and other records) more valuable by identifying for each of the items the relevant names, places, dates and occasions with each item. "Without these bylines such records, in time, become valueless" and not desired by archivists.
  • He issued a challenge as well: Make provision to have your records (correspondence, diaries, daybooks, business records, etc.) preserved by your family for at least a generation. Even if you and your children have no substantial interest in these items, this passes them to the third generation: your grandchildren.
  • Mennonite Congregations in Alberta have an important role to play. A historian might be identified for all Mennonite congregations in Alberta. They would have an important role in liaising with the MHSA and in encouraging prudent historical practices at the congregational level.
  • Earlier problems of communication among the members of the MHSA and between Mennonites of Alberta can be obviated via new electronic means of accessing information on the World Wide Web, participation in electronic mailing lists, and communicating individually via e-mail. Where the congregational historian is also an internet-user, we are likely to see great strides in the advancement of the goals of the MHSA.
  • Recovering Our Stories is important. "There are still frontier and second generation stories" that need to be captured. We need to capture the information from folks among us who "rock and talk". And, there are analytic accounts to be pursued, such as those who leave the Mennonite church and seem to leave no "papertrail", the impact of class differences among Mennonites, the contributions of Mennonite politicians, etc.

    In all, Peter reminded us that documenting the stories involves answering

  • the classic journalistic questions: who, what, when, where, why and how.

Discussion of MHSA Goals for 1998/99

  • collect materials from y our own family, your parents, or your grandparents.
  • Compile a family history, a biography, or an autobiography
  • Videotape your family and attach a complete commentary
  • Tape your grandmother's or mother's story
  • Ask how congregational seniors clubs can become involved
  • If you write an obituary, include the answers to the journalistic questions and send a copy to the MHSA
  • Make a list of individuals who can assess the value of things that should be preserved

Financial Statement
We have a very modest bank account of $343.62. Keith Hunsberger of MCC (Alberta) will conduct a financial review of the MHSA for the 1999 Annual General Meeting.

Anne Neufeld, chair of the Nominating Committee ran the election with the following results:

Chair: Henry D. Goerzen, Box 7, Site 18, R.R. #1, Didsbury, T0M 0W0
Vice-Chair: Peter Penner, Calgary
Secretary: Judith Rempel, Calgary
Treasurer: Harold Friesen
Executive At Large: David Wiebe-Neufeldt, Lethbridge
Appointed Representatives:

  • Richard Harder, Didsbury, Northwest Conference
  • Mary Burkholder, Duchess, Eastern Alberta
  • F. David Dyck, Coaldale, Southern Alberta
  • Cornelius Warkentin, Tofield, Northern Alberta
  • Henry Driedger, Far Northern Alberta

1998/99 Nominating Committee:
Helen Friesen, Calgary
Anne Neufeld, Coaldale
Peter Penner, Calgary

Representation at Mennonite Historical Society of Canada Annual Meeting
Ted Regehr, Calgary, will represent the MHSA in Waterloo on December 5, 1998

Alberta Archive Project
A substantial amount of materials have been amassed by the MHSA over the years and are stored, albeit securely, at the home of Henry & Mary Goerzen.

Discussion resulted in a general consensus that unpublished materials should probably go to a Mennonite archive with professional staff and suitable environmental controls. Published items, such as books and stories that are bound or published and can be stored on a shelf could be added to a basic historical library made up of Mennonite books, Mennonite periodicals, conference yearbooks, aids to research, church histories, newsletters, family histories, etc. As some of these items will be held as microforms, a microfilm reader and computer hardware will be needed to facilitate research.

Webster Note: All the above was extracted from the Minutes of the Annual General Meeting of the MHSA which were prepared by Peter Penner.

General Queries/Comments: Contact MHSA