Shelly, Maynard Myers (1925-2009)

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Maynard Shelly, ca. 1984.
Mennonite Library and Archives photo 2020-0016

Maynard Myers Shelly, minister, editor and author; was born 3 February 1925 in Milford Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, USA to Howard Shelly (5 May 1904-16 July 1990) and Emma Myers Shelly (27 September 1904-11 October 1972). Maynard was the eldest child to survive infancy in a family of eight sons and one daughter. On 7 September 1945 he married Griselda Aurora Gehman (31 January 1924-19 January 2014). Maynard and Griselda had one son, Javan (21 February 1948-21 April 2015). Maynard Shelly died 7 August 2009 at Kidron Bethel Health Care in North Newton. Kansas. Maynard and Griselda are buried in the Greenwood Cemetery, Newton, Kansas.

Maynard was baptized in the West Swamp Mennonite Church when he was 15 years old. After graduating from high school, he earned a BA from Bluffton College in 1945. He graduated from Mennonite Biblical Seminary with a BD degree in 1949 and with a MDiv in 1983. He served as pastor at Boynton Mennonite Church in Hopedale, Illinois from 1946 to 1949 and First Mennonite Church in Allentown, Pennsylvania from 1949 to 1955.

In 1955, the family moved to Newton, Kansas where Maynard served as the assistant executive secretary of the General Conference Mennonite Church's Board of Education and Publication (1955 to 1961). He then became editor of The Mennonite, the weekly publication of the General Conference Mennonite church from 1961 to 1971.

By addressing the controversies of that turbulent era, Shelly changed the way church members perceived the publication, said Robert Regier of North Newton, Kansas who did layout and artwork for The Mennonite from 1959 to 1963. "Maynard was very interested in social issues and worked very hard at trying to fuse faith and action," said Regier, a longtime art professor at Bethel College. "He saw this as a very important dimension of his understanding of the Anabaptist faith." The Mennonite's content had been more devotional for a readership with a broad range of theological perspectives. Maynard moved it a little bit more into a prophetic role," Regier said. "His editorials became more of a commentary on social-political types of issues, rather than a more personal piety."

After leaving The Mennonite in 1971, Maynard and Griselda served with Mennonite Central Committee in Bangladesh. Staying until 1974, they worked on a development program with refugees affected by a 1970 cyclone and war between East and West Pakistan.

After that, Maynard Shelly wrote scripts for MCC films, Sunday school curricula and numerous freelance magazine articles. He authored New Call to Peacemaking in 1979 and a four-volume Bible survey course called Discovery in 1984. He also became general editor for the General Conference Commission on Education, working on projects such as book publication through Faith and Life Press, the church bulletin service and the Foundation Series for youth. He also researched and began writing a history of the West Swamp Mennonite Church.

Two key issues for Shelly while he was editor were the Vietnam War and racial injustice. Vern Preheim, later General Secretary of the General Conference Mennonite Church, said of Maynard Shelly, ""He was very courageous and followed his convictions."


"Magazine editor faced issues with courage." Mennonite Weekly Review (17 August 2009): 3. Web. 23 May 2020.,_Maynard_(1925-2009).

"Maynard (Myers) Shelly." SAGA (Swiss Anabaptist Genealogical Association) Genealogical Website. Web. 23 May 2020.

"Maynard Myers Shelly." Find a Grave. 14 September 2009. Web. 23 May 2020.


Maynard Shelly Papers, 1925-2009. MS.573, Mennonite Library and Archives, Bethel College, North Newton, Kansas.

Published Works by Maynard Shelly

Shelly, Maynard. We are pilgrims: a pageant in five episodes, words by Maynard Shelly; music by J. Harold Moyer. Newton, Kan.: Mennonite Publication Office, 1959.

_____. New call for peacemakers : a new call to peacemaking study guide. Newton, Kan.: Faith and Life Press, 1979.

_____. Discover the kingdom people. Newton, Kan.: Faith and Life Press, 1984.

_____. Discover the people of faith. Newton, Kan.: Faith and Life Press, 1984.

_____. Discover the covenant people. Newton, Kan.: Faith and Life Press, 1984.

_____. Discover the people of the way. Newton, Kan.: Faith and Life Press, 1984.

Shelly, Maynard and Lee James Irwin. 300 years of faith and fellowship : the story of the West Swamp Mennonite Church. Morgantown, Pa.: Masthof Press, 2015.

Author(s) Samuel J Steiner
Date Published May 2020

Cite This Article

MLA style

Steiner, Samuel J. "Shelly, Maynard Myers (1925-2009)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. May 2020. Web. 18 May 2021.,_Maynard_Myers_(1925-2009)&oldid=168201.

APA style

Steiner, Samuel J. (May 2020). Shelly, Maynard Myers (1925-2009). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 May 2021, from,_Maynard_Myers_(1925-2009)&oldid=168201.

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