Funk, Herta (1935-1989)

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Herta Funk, a Christian educator, was the eldest daughter of David and Anna Funk, born on 11 May 1935 in Nikolaifeld, Ukraine. In 1948 she immigrated to Canada via Poland and West Germany, settling in Steinbach, MB. Two years later she moved to Abbotsford, BC. Between the ages of 16 and 22 she worked in Vancouver as a housekeeper and bank teller.

Her desire for education was not to be denied. She attended the Mennonite Educational Institute in Abbotsford and then enrolled in teacher training at the University of British Columbia. From 1961 to 1963 she taught elementary school. Two years later, she graduated from the Canadian Mennonite Bible College in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Funk was a life-long member of the General Conference Mennonite Church. On 6 June 1854 she was baptized in the West Abbotsford Mennonite Church. During her years in Kansas (1966-1983) she was a member of the Bethel Mennonite Church in Newton.

In 1966 she began working with the General Conference Commission on Education. While working as a Conference employee, she completed her BA at Bethel College (Newton) as well as an MA, and by 1981, a Ph.D. in German at the University of Kansas.

In 1983 Funk's love for people, learning and service took her to China where she became a much loved teacher of English at Shenyang, Chengdu and Suzhou, and various universities. Symptoms of a brain tumor began to appear in 1986. After successful treatment she moved to Taiwan in order to study Chinese. However, malignancy was soon to reappear. She died peacefully amidst family and friends on 31 December 1989.

Funk's contribution to adult Christian education included excellent administration of workshops relating to Sunday school, Project Teach, women's concerns and single's issues. She also contributed to the General Conference study on homosexuality, perhaps her most controversial involvement.

Her worldwide travels intensified her concern for marginalized people, particularly refugees who ended up in her hometown of Newton, Kansas. In China she worked closely with the Amity Foundation, which distributes Bible and Christian literature.

Throughout her life she sought to improve the lot of needy people without flaunting her skill or educational achievements. Her students in China found her to be a true friend, calling her "Mother." They symbolized her creative teaching methods as butterflies of knowledge hovering over flowers which she cherished and tended.

Herta Funk's memory lives on among her Chinese friends in the form of an annual English competition, which she founded through her estate.

Author(s) Anne Thiessen
Date Published February 2002

Cite This Article

MLA style

Thiessen, Anne. "Funk, Herta (1935-1989)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. February 2002. Web. 3 Dec 2022.,_Herta_(1935-1989)&oldid=87625.

APA style

Thiessen, Anne. (February 2002). Funk, Herta (1935-1989). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 3 December 2022, from,_Herta_(1935-1989)&oldid=87625.

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