- Evangelical Mennonite Conference
The Evangelical Mennonite Conference is a Canadian
Mennonitebody of evangelical Christians.
The "Evangelical Mennonite Conference" began in 1814 in the
Molotschnasettlement of southern Russia as the "Kleine Gemeinde", [In Plautdietsch, "De Kleen-gemeenta" (both meaning "little church").] a group of Plautdietsch-speaking Mennonites. Klaas Reimer(1770-1837), a Mennonite minister from Gdansk, settled in Molotschna in 1805 Reimer felt the Mennonites of the area were too lax in doctrine and piety, and began to hold meetings in homes in 1812. He was joined by another minister, Cornelius Janzen, and eighteen members, who together recognized themselves as a separate church body in 1814.
An 1838 pamphlet addresses five disputes with the main Mennonite body. The primary complaint was that Mennonite leaders were straying from their traditional nonresistant stance when they turned lawbreakers over the government for punishment while at the same time church leaders became more lax in enforcing spiritual discipline. An increased use of alcohol and other vices were cited as evidence. The second problem was inconsistent application of discipline for minor offenses; while the breakaway group was banned, other types of offenses were ignored. To a disloyalty charge, they reaffirmed their submission to the government while maintaining a stance against any involvement with detaining or punishing offenders. They did not approve of attending weddings, which had become worldly in their view. The final criticism was aimed at sermons and eulogies at funerals, a practice that had recently been adopted from Catholics and Lutherans. [Smith, pp. 275-6.]
In 1860 a portion of this group migrated to
Crimeaunder the leadership of Jakob Wiebe. This group adopted baptism by immersion. After migrating in 1874 to Kansas, they became known as the Krimmer Mennonite Brethren. [Smith, p. 276-7.]
In 1870 the Russian government issued a proclamation stating the intention to end all special privileges granted to German colonists by 1880. Alarmed at the possibility of losing control of their schools and military exemption, a delegation of Mennonite and
Hutteriteleaders, including Cornelius Toews and David Claassen of the "Kleine Gemeinde", visited North America in 1873 to investigate resettlement possibilities. In 1874, the main group proceeded to migrate to North America, settling in Manitobaand near Jansen, Nebraskain Jefferson County. The Jansen group moved to Kansas and eventually ceased to be part of the "Kleine Gemeinde". A number of the "Kleine Gemeinde" went into the movement of Elder John Holdeman ( Church of God in Christ, Mennonite). In 1952, the "Kleine Gemeinde" changed its name to the "Evangelical Mennonite Church", and then to the "Evangelical Mennonite Conference" in 1959.
Doctrines of the "Evangelical Mennonite Conference" are presented in the EMC Constitution, adopted in 1994. The constitution reveals conservative evangelical Christian teachings such as the
Trinity, the depravity of man, salvationthrough the substitutionary atonementof Jesus Christ, the assurance of present salvation (distinct from the doctrine of " eternal security" which also offers the assurance of future salvation), and the supreme and final authority and infallibilityof Scripture. Mennonite distinctives such as non-conformityto the world, mutual accountability, church discipline, congregational governance, and non-resistanceare maintained. Along with other evangelicals and orthodox Mennonites, the EMC takes a complementarianstance and does not ordain women into the ministry. Three ordinances are held — believers' baptism, the Lord's supper, and feet washing.
The churches of the "Evangelical Mennonite Conference" are located in five Canadian provinces -
Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Saskatchewan. In 2006 there were over 7000 members in 57 churches, with roughly 150 ministers serving the churches. [ 2006 EMC Yearbook] The congregations are organized into nine regional conferences. Foreign mission work is established in 25 countries. A general conference council meets twice a year. The Evangelical Mennonite Conference archives, offices, Steinbach Christian High School and Steinbach Bible Collegeare located in Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada. "The Messenger", an official publication of the conference, is printed 22 times per year.
Since an evangelical revival in the EMC led by Rev. Ben D. Reimer and others in the 1940s, the defining mark of the EMC in recent years has been its missions emphasis. Currently, over 70% of the Conference's national budget goes to missions activity. [2006 EMC Conference Budget] More recently, much emphasis has also been placed on church planting within Canada.
The "Evangelical Mennonite Conference" is a member of the "Evangelical Fellowship of Canada" and the
Mennonite World Conference.
* Dyck, Cornelius J., Martin, Dennis D., et al., editors, "Mennonite Encyclopedia"
*Plett, Delbert, " [http://www.hshs.mb.ca/BooksOnline.html Saints and Sinners] "
*cite book |last=Smith |first=C. Henry |other=Revised and expanded by Cornelius Krahn |title=Smith's Story of the Mennonites |year=1981 |publisher=Faith and Life Press |location=Newton, Kansas |id=ISBN 0-87303-069-9| pages=249-356
*"Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches (2001)", National Council of Churches
* [http://www.emconf.ca/ Official Website]
* [http://www.adherents.com/Na/Na_282.html#1524 Adherents.com]
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