Mennonite Brethren History

“MB” stands for “Mennonite Brethren”. It’s a mostly outdated term, but it has a lot of rich meaning. The term “Mennonite” had its roots in the 16th Century Anabaptism (means twice baptized) movement. These radical reformers emphasized Biblical discipleship and obedience to Christ, the importance of the church as a “body” of local believers, baptism for those who chose to believe, the separation of Church and State, and the exercise of peace and right relationships including enemies.

During the next few centuries, Mennonites often found themselves under religious constraint and the demands of military conscription. Financial prosperity eventually created a unique religiosity that prioritized religious and cultural attachments over personal connectedness with God through Jesus Christ. For many, being “Christian” meant belonging to the right cultural group—Mennonite—associated with the proper church and exemplifying behavior approved by the local clergy. In essence, it was a new form of “church and state” that had spawned much of the resistance during the Reformation.

When German Lutheran evangelist, Edward Wüst (1818-1859), came to the steppes of southern Russia and Crimea in the late 1850s, he was invited to hold evangelistic meetings among the Mennonites. Hearing about personal salvation through faith in the work of Christ on the cross, eighteen families responded to this good news. Eventually, this group was ostracized from the larger Mennonite church, and in 1860 the “Mennonite Brethren” church was formed. Within a few decades, MB’s sent missionaries to India and Congo. By the late 19th century, a significant number migrated to the USA and Canada with the promise of pioneering their own land. (for more info on Mennonite Brethren, and here.)

When some of these MB believers came to southern Alberta (Coaldale) they began their own congregations. While it initially was mostly for their own community, they eventually believed that to be missional new churches and ministries should be started in the province. Churches were started across the province and a camp was built (Evergreen, 1963). Today we have 20 churches with more joining each year.

The Alberta Mennonite Brethren (ABMB) continues to build on the discipleship ethos of the past. We intentionally support our churches in fulfilling the Great Commission in making disciples. Today we have over 20 member churches with new churches regularly joining this family. Currently the province is experiencing significant growth from immigration; many of these “diaspora” congregations are seeking a family to belong to. We are scattered throughout the province, rurally and in the city, representing many different ethnic realities. Camp Evergreen continues to be a powerful influence in reaching the next generation for Christ and in developing Kingdom leadership for the home, church, and marketplace. ABMB is part of a larger family of 21 conferences around the world, the International Community of Mennonite Brethren (ICOMB).

ABMB continues to focus on the health and vitality of our churches. Over the last year many churches are experiencing growth. While the future always remains uncertain, we are assured that as we work toward cultivating a community and culture of healthy disciple-making churches and ministries, God will bless us and those we encounter.