The founding groups of Elim Bible Institute were the Bergthaler Mennonite and the Blumenorter Mennonite Church, both located in southern Manitoba. The Bergthalers traced their beginnings in Canada back to the immigration from south Russia in 1874 - 1876, with the Blumenorters coming in the 1920s, also from south Russia.
The first classes opened in 1929 in Gretna in the Mennonite Collegiate Institute with instructor Johann Enns and twenty students. It was hoped that the new school would provide opportunities for systematic Bible study, give youth training in local congregational work, and prepare students for wider ministries such as evangelism and missionary work.
Several teachers were added, although various difficulties, such as the Great Depression, led to the closing of the school from 1931-1936, after which P. P. Tschetter from Freeman, South Dakota, reopened the school. In 1940 the school was moved to Altona where it continued under the direction of Abram A. Teichroeb, also one of the 1920s immigrants, until 1963. This period, sometimes referred to as the "Teichroeb era," or " the years of stability," was characterized by a greater evangelical, if not fundamentalist, emphasis. The school was strongly undergirded by a board led for most of this period by David Schulz, Elder (Aeltester) of the Bergthaler Mennonite Church.
The school reached its highest enrolment of 109 during the early 1950s. Its constituency expanded to include the Whitewater Mennonite Church of the Boissevain area, the Rudnerweide Mennonite churches, and a number of congregations which resulted from the 1920s immigration, including Steinbach, Arnaud, Niverville, Glenlea and Springstein. A society of sponsoring churches came into being in 1951.
George Neufeld, originally from the Whitewater Mennonite Church, became the principal in 1964 when A. A. Teichroeb moved to Paraguay to establish a Bible school there. The decade of 1964-74 has been called the "years of change" when students with more high school education began to enrol and two-year diploma courses with majors in Christian education and church music were introduced. A strengthened emphasis on Anabaptist-Mennonite theology emerged and new programs related to church camping, Christian service and adult education were introduced. The name change to Elim Christian Education Centre in 1972 symbolized the updating of Elim in this period. Controversy which surrounded the reconstitution of programs and goals for the school led to a drop in student enrollment to a low of 18 in 1974 and the closing of the school that year.
A new beginning was attempted in 1975, this time under the umbrella of the Conference of Mennonites in Manitoba. New strategies were agreed upon under the leadership of Principal Victor Kliewer.
Under its old name again, Elim Bible Institute continued for another dozen years. Several principals, including Phil Bender, Dan Zehr and, for an interim period, Ike Froese, sought to sustain a vital ministry of training for church service and in biblical studies for the CMM congregations.
By 1980 the enrollment had increased to just under 60. New facilities were planned and became operational with the move to a new campus in western Altona in 1983. These moves could not prevent another downward trend of enrollment. In 1986 the conference decided to discontinue the Elim residential program. This effort was also terminated when all attempts to sustain the institution ceased in 1988. Alternative ways of providing Christian education for young people were approved. Elim would not reopen again.
Isaac, Frank K. Elim: 5Oth Anniversary 1929 - 1979. Winnipeg: Conference of Mennonites in Manitoba, 1979.
Kliewer, V. D. "A Program Proposal for Elim Bible Institute," project submitted for the D. Min. program at Bethany Theological Seminary, Oak Brook, Illinois, 1987: 47- 58.
|Date Published||January 2001|
Cite This Article
Klippenstein, Lawrence. "Elim Bible Institute (Altona, Manitoba, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. January 2001. Web. 27 Mar 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Elim_Bible_Institute_(Altona,_Manitoba,_Canada)&oldid=91688.
Klippenstein, Lawrence. (January 2001). Elim Bible Institute (Altona, Manitoba, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 27 March 2015, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Elim_Bible_Institute_(Altona,_Manitoba,_Canada)&oldid=91688.
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