Mennonite Cultural Problems Conference

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General cultural developments by the latter 1930s had made a number of American Mennonite leaders conscious of the need for periodic discussion of common problems on an inter-Mennonite basis. Acting on this awareness, Harold S. Bender, Guy F. Hershberger, Melvin Gingerich, and J. Winfield Fretz took the initiative in organizing a program for a one-day discussion of some of the common problems confronting Mennonites. It was called a Conference on Mennonite Sociology and was held on 31 December 1941 in the YMCA Hotel in Chicago, 47 of the 53 invited guests being present. It was unanimously agreed that further conferences should be held. A committee drew up a two-day program for a conference to be held on 7-8 August 1942. There were 119 registered guests at the first session of what came to be known as the Conference on Mennonite Cultural Problems.

The Conference on Mennonite Cultural Problems met annually 1942-1947 (Winona Lake, Indiana: Goshen, Indiana; North Newton, Kansas; Bluffton, Ohio; Freeman, South Dakota; Hillsboro, Kansas), and then biennially (Hillsboro, 1949; Grantham, Pennsylvania, 1951; Hesston, Kansas, 1953), changing its name in 1951 to "Conference on Mennonite Educational and Cultural Problems." After its first session, which had been sponsored by a Conference on Mennonite Sociology which met at Chicago, Illinois, 31 December 1941, it was taken under the wing of the Council of Mennonite and Affiliated Colleges, which regularly appointed the program committee, composed of representatives of the Mennonite colleges, and underwrote the cost of printing the Proceedings of each conference in book form. The conference was unofficial and open to the general public; its range of interest included Mennonite sociology, ethics, education, community interests, and other topics relating to the total life of the Mennonite community. The sessions attracted primarily faculty members of the participating colleges, public school teachers, ministers, and a scattering of laymen. Perhaps its most important achievements were the creative writing it stimulated, the research it encouraged, and the body of information on the cultural life of Mennonites it produced. It was the only officially sponsored American inter-Mennonite group that met regularly for intellectual fellowship and discussion. The Mennonite Research Fellowship usually meets in connection with the conference.

The last meeting of the Conference on Mennonite Educational and Cultural Problems was held in 1967. Proceedings of the 16 conferences are held at most Mennonite historical libraries.

Author(s) Harold S. Bender
J. Winfield Fretz
Date Published 1957

Cite This Article

MLA style

Bender, Harold S. and J. Winfield Fretz. "Mennonite Cultural Problems Conference." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 17 Aug 2022.

APA style

Bender, Harold S. and J. Winfield Fretz. (1957). Mennonite Cultural Problems Conference. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 17 August 2022, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 678; v. 3, pp. 619-620. All rights reserved.

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