Bible Schools: Manitoba Conference Mennonites

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Conference Mennonite Bible schools and local "Gemeinde" Bible schools originated in Manitoba after the arrival of the Russian Mennonites in the 1920s. Gemeinden (multi-congregational churches) were concerned that their young people, especially those who did not continue their education beyond junior high, have a place where they could receive thorough Biblical knowledge, Sunday School teacher training, direction in other church ministries and ethics, as well as an understanding of their own Mennonite heritage. Church leaders also noted that attendance at non-Mennonite Bible schools more and more alienated young people from their Mennonite community. It was in the private schools that peoplehood was nurtured. A two to five-month period of instruction, whether during the day or evenings, was seen as a wise use of time in the long cold winter months.

Gemeinden in other provinces had similar concerns and the Conference of Mennonites in Canada (CMC) tried to give direction in this matter. It established a task force consisting of the ministers J. H. Enns (1889-1974), Winnipeg, Manitoba, J. H. Janzen (1878-1950), Waterloo, Ontario, and J. J. Klassen (1872-1942), Dundurn, Saskatchewan, to work out a unified curriculum for the local and provincial General Conference Bible schools. By 1935 the task force had worked out a two-year and a four-year program. Their recommendation was that the two-year program, complete in itself, should be offered in all local Gemeinden; years three and four should be offered by the provincial Bible schools for more advanced work. The total program included the following courses: Kingdom history of the Old and New Testaments (Reichsgottesgeschichte des Alten und Neuen Testaments), Introduction to the Bible, Exegesis, Doctrine, Ethics, Biblical Archaeology, Church History, Mennonite History, Missions, Hymnology (Das geistliche Lied), German Language, English Language, and Singing (Gesang).

By 1936 the Conference of Mennonites in Canada recommended that every province establish a four-year, every larger Gemeinde a two-year, Bible school program. The first General Conference initiated Bible school program in Manitoba was begun by the Bergthaler and Blumenorter Gemeinden in conjunction with the Mennonite Collegiate Institute in Gretna in 1929. This later became the Elim Bible School in Altona. Other Gemeinde Bible Schools were The Mennonitische Religionsschule (Mennonite school of religion) in Winnipeg 1932-47, the Lichtenauer Bible School at St Elizabeth 1937-41, the Whitewater Bible School near Boissevain 1937 and 1943-44, and the Elim Bible School at Grunthal 1950. (See separate articles on each of these, except on the Grunthal school which met only during one winter with the local minister H. A. Warkentin (1887-1959) as teacher.)


Enns, J. H.  "Bibelschulen." Der Bote (18 Dezember 1929): 2.

Enns, J. H. "Bericht über die Bibelschulen unserer Konferenz." Jahrbuch der Konferenz der Mennoniten in Canada (1942): 57.

Enns, J. H.  "In Angelegenheit unserer Bibelschularbeit." Report to the Konferenz Mennonitischer Prediger 27-29 November 1936 in Winnipeg, Mennonite Heritage Centre archives, vol. 1595-1.

Ens, Anna. The Search for Unity. Winnipeg, MB: CMBC Publications, 1996: 66-67.

Esau, D. P. "Warum ist die Bibelschule für die Gemeinde wichtig?" Das Bergthaler Gemeindeblatt (April 1938): 2.

Peter H. Enns letter to Bruder Hans (i.e. J. H. Enns), 27 March 1934, Mennonite Heritage Centre archives, vol. 650-7.

Das Komitee, Elim Gemeinde. Grunthal, Manitoba, 1927-72: 17.

Peters, Gerhard I. Remember Our Leaders: Conference of Mennonites in Canada 1902-1977. Clearbrook, BC: Mennonite Historical Society of British Columbia, 1982: 50, 65, 153.

Regehr, Rudy. "A Century of Private Schools," in Henry Poettcker and Rudy Regehr, eds. Call to Faithfulness: Essays in Canadian Mennonite Studies.

Winnipeg, MB: Canadian Mennonite Bible College, 1972: 103-115.

"Winnipeg Bible Schools materials, 1940-41," Mennonite Heritage Centre archives, vol. 4103-12.

Author(s) Anna Ens
Date Published February 2002

Cite This Article

MLA style

Ens, Anna. "Bible Schools: Manitoba Conference Mennonites." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. February 2002. Web. 24 Jun 2021.

APA style

Ens, Anna. (February 2002). Bible Schools: Manitoba Conference Mennonites. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 June 2021, from

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