Mennonite Pioneer Mission

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The Mennonite Pioneer Mission was an agency of the Bergthaler Mennonite Church of Manitoba from 1945 until 1957. It was started to take over the missionary effort which Randall Groening had begun in 1942 among the Rarámuri (Tarahumara) people in Chihuahua, Mexico, assisted by Mr. and Mrs. Heinrich J. Gerbrandt in 1945-1948.  Because of visa and other difficulties, the work had to be abandoned in 1948. 

In 1948 work was begun among the Indigenous on Matheson Island in the Lake Winnipeg area of Manitoba. In later years two additional stations were added in Paungassi and Cross Lake. Mr. and Mrs. J. M. Unrau were the first missionaries. To these were added Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Brandt, partial support; Mr. and Mrs. Henry Neufeld, Helen Willms, Mary Janzen, Mr. and Mrs. Larry Klippenstein, and Mr. and Mrs. Otto Hamm, besides associate workers in the public schools of the area.

The Mennonite Pioneer Mission also supported Mr. and Mrs. Peter Falk under the Congo Inland Mission and Anne Penner under the General Conference board in India. The 1956 budget was $24,500.

The mission board members were elected by the several congregations.

The Mennonite Pioneer Mission work was amalgamated with that of the Conference of Mennonites in Canada (General Conference Mennonite) in 1957. The name was changed in 1973 to Native Ministries.

The official organ, Mennonite Pioneer Mission, published at Altona, Manitoba since 1945, appeared twice per year as a 12-page 6 x 9-inch journal. It was sent to all members of the church.  The headquarters of the organization were at Altona.


Hamm, O. J. The Mennonite Pioneer Mission in Cross Lake, Winnipeg, Canada. The Conference of Mennonites in Canada, 1961.

Matheson Island Memories: A Celebration of Mennonite Pioneer Mission and Native Ministries' Involvement at Matheson Island (1948-2003). Edited by Neill and Edith von Gunten.  Riverton, Manitoba: Bernice's Transfers, 2003.

Mennonite Pioneer Mission in Manitoba, 1945-1949. Altona, Manitoba, 1959.

Additional Information

1945 executive committee: J. W. Schmidt, chairman; D. H. Loewen, vice-chairman; J. N. Hoeppner, secretary; D. W. Friesen, treasurer.

1955 executive committee: George Groening, chairman; Bernie Leoppky, vice-chairman; H. J. Gerbrandt, secretary; J. N. Braun, treasurer.

Author(s) Henry J. Gerbrandt
Harold S. Bender
Date Published February 2008

Cite This Article

MLA style

Gerbrandt, Henry J. and Harold S. Bender. "Mennonite Pioneer Mission." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. February 2008. Web. 10 Dec 2023.

APA style

Gerbrandt, Henry J. and Harold S. Bender. (February 2008). Mennonite Pioneer Mission. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 10 December 2023, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 633; vol. 4, p. 182. All rights reserved.

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