Tag Archives: Books

MHM Book Launch: Women in Ministry Leadership

2019 07 13 MHM Book Launch Douglas Heidebrecht Women in Ministry Leadership

You are invited to this FREE event!

Join us for an afternoon with author, Douglas J. Heidebrecht

July 13th at the Mennonite Heritage Museum

Presentation at 2pm

Light refreshments, meet the author, purchase books and have your book signed!

Everyone welcome, bring your friends and family!


This book explores the journey of the Mennonite Brethren – an Anabaptist-Evangelical church denomination in North America – highlighting their attempt to find consensus in their convictions and practice regarding the role of women in church ministry and leadership. Throughout this complex and vibrant conversation spanning over 50 years (1954-2010), Mennonite Brethren have sought to discern together as a community how to interpret the Scriptures in the midst of prevailing cultural changes. No other issue has received this level of attention by Mennonite Brethren during the second half of the 20th century. Author Doug Heidebrecht examines how both conference leaders as well as local church members have actively participated in this significant conversation.

Here is a recent news release in the MB Herald: https://mbherald.com/wiml-journey/

This fact-based book tells the story of the journey of the Mennonite Brethren Church grappling with women coming into ministry in the church. It details the times and places where conversations on the topic were held. The Mennonite Brethren Church worked hard at confronting the concern for finding the rightful place for women to serve. As the book shows, the Denomination was not always successful in expressing itself about the subject. But women are serving in the Mennonite Brethren Church in a variety of ways. As I read, I kept thinking—this is my story! This is where I come from and how I came to serve, even when I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a pastor. Thank you, Doug, for researching this story and showing how the Bride of Christ can fulfill its mandate to share the love of Jesus Christ.

—Lorraine Dick, pastor and former Board of Faith and Life chair

Interpreting Scripture in 21st Century culture can be challenging. An accurate account of more than fifty years of convictions and practices can be helpful because often we learn from what has already happened. That’s why this book is important.

—Ed Boschman, former executive director, U.S. Mennonite Brethren Church


Heidebrecht’s work is equal parts too-engaging-to-put-down, spellbinding, page-turner storytelling and a majestic historical masterpiece of the Mennonite Brethren Church. Heidebrecht sketches the denomination’s deep love of Scripture and the Spirit as MB’s seek ethical faithfulness intertwined with the siren-voiced temptations of personality and cultural influences. The you-are-there immediacy of this piece makes it must-have reading.

—Lynn Jost, professor, Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary

I can still remember the general terrain and some stops on the long journey Mennonite Brethren took about women in ministry leadership, and have never forgotten how joy overwhelmed me in 2006 when we were freed to serve in all capacities. How wonderful now to have a detailed retrospective map of that journey; to have this careful and very interesting record of its challenges, stumbles, discipleship in community, disappointments—yes—and also joy.

—Dora Dueck, writer and former MB Herald editorial staff


When difficult conversations happen over a long period of time and consensus is not reached, it is inevitable that some of us will remember and evaluate the steps along the way quite diversely. The enormous strength of this book by Dr. Heidebrecht (“Doug” to most of us), is that his careful reporting and judicious assessments are the outcome of both direct engagement and very thorough research. Thanks, Doug, for helping us along this seemingly never-ending journey.

—Tim Geddert, professor, Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary


Heidebrecht employs meticulous attention to historical detail in this review and reflection on 50+ years of agonizing effort to discern the roles of women in the Mennonite Brethren church of North America. He looks deep into the heart of Mennonite Brethren character. This book tells the tale, step by step, how the “dissolution of consensus” renders a “free church” almost incapable of dealing with the impact of cultural shift. And when leadership inevitably errs in some aspect of theological reflection or politics, or inadequately explains its resolutions or assumptions, all bets are off for finding a path forward in unity. This book is almost a thriller—politics, plagiarism, flawed effort, frustration, and a hopeful ending—as a church tries to pull itself up on its own bootstraps on a controversial issue without an operating shared hermeneutic.

—David Wiebe, former executive director, ICOMB


At a time when questions about the role of women in ministry continue to surface in Mennonite Brethren congregations in Canada and the U.S., this thorough study offers an even-handed and nuanced exploration of the issue. It is an important record and an invaluable resource.

—Christine Longhurst, professor, Canadian Mennonite University


Through meticulous research and deep theological reflection, Doug Heidebrecht helps us connect the origins, lead actors, and scenes in the unfolding drama of a people wrestling with God over the issue of women in ministry leadership.  Like Jacob of old at the River Jabbok, the Mennonite Brethren emerge out of the mud into a new day—deeply wounded, marked, and limping, but blessed.

—Ken Peters, pastor and former BFL chair


Doug Heidebrecht has given us the gift of examining the way Mennonite Brethren have sought to answer the question, “what does the Word say?” in regards to the appropriate roles for women in church leadership. With careful attention to detail, Heidebrecht brings to life the personalities and issues that shaped the conversation over the last half century. In doing so, he pushes us to examine how a community of believers can read and apply Scripture together. It is a fascinating examination of recent history.

—Valerie Rempel, professor, Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary


This deeply researched and engaging study of women and leadership in the Mennonite Brethren denomination over nearly 60 years is an important case study of how churches respond to social change both outside and inside the fold. The cyclical decisions, debates, and disagreements over women’s rights or restrictions are simultaneously fascinating and frustrating. The book is a must read for individuals on all sides of this not-finished agenda.

—Marlene Epp, author of Mennonite Women in Canada: A History, and professor at Conrad Grebel University College


Heidebrecht deeply cares for the well-being of the Mennonite Brethren community. He has done yeoman’s service by deftly untangling the intertwined cultural influences, hermeneutical methods, and internal politics involved in the events and documents pertaining to their discussion of women in ministry leadership. This investigation presses the Mennonite Brethren (and others) toward (re)discovering the importance of a Spirit-enabled, communal discernment of “what the Bible says.”

—Bruce L. Guenther, professor, MB Biblical Seminary


Doug Heidebrecht’s meticulous research into the North American Mennonite Brethren journey with the question of women in ministry leadership is instructive and even riveting! This work makes a valuable contribution to the complex history of the roles of women in our family, as well as the understanding of denominational decision making informed by the disciplines of biblical studies and hermeneutical engagement. My hope is that this volume will encourage the many capable sisters in Mennonite Brethren churches around the world to generously employ their gifts and calling in the work of the life-changing gospel of Christ.

—Ingrid Reichard, National Faith & Life director, Canadian Conference of MB Churches

MHM Book Launch “Finding Father” ed. Mary Ann Loewen

You are invited to this free event at the Museum!
Join us for a presentation at 7pm and meet the editor, Mary Ann Loewen and one of the contributors, local author, Elsie K. Neufeld!
Books will be available for purchase from our Bookstore & Gift Shop.
Book signing and light refreshments.
Gallery and Main Exhibits open!SKM_C45819050816570

Finding Father is a collection of stories about Mennonite fathers by their daughters. Written by well-known and first-time writers, these stories illuminate the often close and sometimes troubling relationships that exist between one of humanity’s most precious bonds. From battles over relationships and sexuality, to debates over chores and church, these stories also hold the shared intimacies of driving side by side with dad, laughing, and headed down the road. (Source: https://www.mcnallyrobinson.com/event-17177/Mary-Ann-Lowen-(Ed.)—-Book-Launch#.XPWo0sRlCUk)



Mary Ann Loewen Portrait

Photo: Mary Ann Loewen

Mary Ann Loewen teaches Academic Writing at the University of Winnipeg. She worked as a nurse and a piano instructor, and is married with three grown children. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.


Mary Ann Loewen is interested in how story integrates into academe. Her MA thesis told the story of her mother, and interrogated the inevitably competing nature of an individual life’s narratives. Mary Ann also loves the way language works, and is always eager to see how messages are given and received: through the written word, through images, through sound; the classes she plans and the work she assigns in her Academic Writing course reflect these interests. She also thoroughly enjoys engaging with her students. https://www.uwinnipeg.ca/rhetoric/faculty/mary-ann-loewen.html

You can find Mary Ann’s anthology of stories Mennonite men have written/told about their mothers, published by the University of Regina Press, available for purchase in the Museum Bookstore: “Sons & Mothers: Stories From Mennonite Men”.


More about Mary Ann:  “Born in Lincoln, Nebraska, but has spent most of her life in Manitoba, Canada. She spent a few years working as a nurse, then taught piano part-time when her kids were young, and then realized that she wanted to know more about reading and writing. Since her stint in grad school, she has taught academic writing at the University of Winnipeg and Canadian literature at Canadian Mennonite University. She loves spending time in her kitchen and hanging out with her family: her husband, three adult children, and one adorable grandson.” (Source: “Finding Father: Stories From Mennonite Daughters”)

Photo below: Elsie K. Neufeld


elsie may 2019 (4)

About Elsie:

Elsie K Neufeld was born in Abbotsford where she has lived for approximately 85% of her life, or just over half a century! Her parents, Walter & Susanna Klassen, were Russian Mennonite immigrants who settled in the Fraser Valley in 1948.  The family, General Conference Mennonites, didn’t attend church Sunday evenings as did the Mennonite Brethern. Her parents spent Sunday evenings at the kitchen table writing German letters to family who had been repatriated to Siberia, settled in Germany, in Steinbach, and Winnipeg. Elsie’s mother enlisted her help, and taught Elsie to write about the details of everyday life. Elsie credits her mother for being her first and best writing teacher, as well as training her how to see and honor the parts of the whole.

In 1996, Elsie wrote her parents’ life-story, entitled “The Past inside the Present: a family story.”  This led to work in the community teaching others how to write their or their family’s stories. Elsie taught at the now University of the Fraser Valley in the Continuing Education program for 15 years. In the past 25 years she also: mentored individuals, and a local writers’ group, and taught writing workshops throughout the Fraser Valley, Lower Mainland, and Vancouver in organizations such as hospice, Genealogy groups, and Seniors’ programs, She also worked as a personal historian, and eulogist. To date, she has midwifed 20 books and almost two dozen eulogies into being.

Elsie’s poetry and creative non-fiction essays have been published in numerous anthologies and literary magazines. Her first book, a memoir, Dancing in the Dark: a sister grieves followed winning two national writing awards for first-ever-published essay, “Who is my neighbour?” in which she wrote of her brother John’s death in 1987.

Her poetry chapbook, Grief Blading Up was published in 2010. Her poem “Touching Forever,” about her father, is included in “Inside Poetry”, a nationally-used high school textbook. A series of her poems can be found on-line, in a journal published by Mennonite Center for Writing (Goshen, Indiana): https://mennonitewriting.org/journal/1/6/elsie-k-neufeld-five-poems/

Elsie is also an editor, and edited several collections of stories for Abbotsford Learning Plus. For her community writing-related efforts, she received Abbotsford’s first ever “Arty award” for writing.

At the turn of the century, she was curious about how many writers of Mennonite heritage there were province-wide, and following a conversation with local poet Robert Martens, Elsie initiated, became editor-in-chief of, and contributed to Half in the Sun: an anthology of Mennonite Writings (Ronsdale Press, 2006), a collection of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry by 24 BC writers of Mennonite heritage.

Writing the lives of others continues to be Elsie’s greatest passion. She believes that the ordinary is extraordinary, and that there is no such thing as a boring life.

In 2017 she was commissioned to write the story of Mott Electric, a fourth generation family owned company that began in 1929 in New Westminster. For this book she conducted more than fifty interviews of past and current long-time employees, and is working now to distill 2000 pages into a 300 page book of text and photos. Her biggest project to date, it has also been her most astonishing as as she didn’t expect electricians to be such interesting and refined people. When she told a long-term Mott employee, who happens to live in Abbotsford, how respectfully she had been treated in all manner of interview settings, he responded with, “Well, we’re not plumbers, you know.”

Laughter is a main-stay of Elsie’s life, and she has come to understand that joy and sorrow exist concurrently. To remind herself of this, she had the words tattooed on her right wrist after a devastating life event.

Elsie lives in Vancouver now, where she enjoys walking, photography, reading, volunteering in a neighbourhood thrift store, and, of course, writing. When she wants human contact, she sits on a bench in English Bay, and talks to strangers.

She has three adult children, and a handsome, eight-month-old grandson, Mister Kade, who is her greatest joy and light.

Of her story in “Finding Father”, her friend, and top-drawer Canadian Mennonite writer Andreas Schroeder said, “Elsie K. Neufeld’s gripping eulogy MEMORIED WITH THE FEEL, foregrounds a heart-breaking effort to understand and celebrate her Russian-Mennonite father, against a lively historic backdrop of the challenges experienced by the Mennonites who emigrated to the Fraser Valley from Russia via Germany immediately after WWII. The result is inevitably stereoscopic — we each carry the story of an entire people strapped to our backs.       (Andreas Schroeder, author of “Renovating Heaven”)


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