Our story begins with the Anabaptist movement in Holland in the 1530′s. The early Anabaptists followed in the path of the Protestant reformers (Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli), but took the reforms further, advocating for believers baptism and non-violence, among other things. Because their ideas were considered radical and disruptive, they were persecuted by all branches of the Church. Groups of Mennonites (named after one of the early leaders, Menno Simons) migrated first to Poland, then later to Russia, seeking a peaceful place to continue their agricultural life and separation from the world. Finally in the late 1800′s, some moved to Canada, looking for educational freedom and military exemptions.
One of the Mennonite groups which moved to Manitoba was the Sommerfelder, who settled in the Winkler area. During the 1930′s, a revival broke out amongst them. Four young ministers were affected by this revival and eventually established a new church with 1100 members. In 1937, they organized as the Rudnerweider Mennoniten Gemeinde. This young group was passionate about missions, establishing new churches in Saskatchewan and sending out their first missionary to Africa.
In 1959, the Rudnerweider restructured as a conference and became the Evangelical Mennonite Mission Conference (EMMC). The next decade saw an expansion of ministries in Ontario, Belize, and Bolivia, as well as in Low German radio. Work among Mennonite immigrants in the US began in the 1970′s. A greater involvement among Low German speaking Mennonites in Mexico developed in the 1980′s.
In the past few years, some of our missions efforts have matured with the churches in Mexico and Bolivia both establishing their own national conferences. With churches in Belize, Mexico South and Canada (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario), regional organization and connections have become more important. This shift has also led to restructuring within the conference boards. Previous ministry councils have been disbanded in favour of one General Board and a General Council made up of representatives from the regions. It has been a season of change. We have reaffirmed our Anabaptist and evangelical roots, and are recommitting ourselves to obeying Jesus’ command: “Go and make disciples!”
For a more complete telling of the story, click here for EMMC History Booklet.