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Spring 1990 · Vol. 19 No. 1 · pp. 128–29 

Book Review

From Faith to Faith: The History of the Manitoba Mennonite Brethren Church

William Neufeld. Winnipeg, MB and Hillsboro, KS: Kindred, 1989. 243 pages.

Reviewed by Frank Isaak

All who have experienced much of the story of the Mennonite Brethren Church in Manitoba will be fascinated by this very readable account of the history of the Manitoba Mennonite Brethren Church. William Neufeld writes from personal observations but the strength of this historical treatise lies in the thorough research he conducted in primary documents such as church records, conference yearbooks, etc.

He reaches back to Reformation times to explain the roots of the Manitoba Mennonite Brethren Church in the Anabaptist heritage of the Swiss, Dutch and Russian Mennonite experiences. The formation of the first Mennonite Brethren Church at Burwalde, Manitoba marked the beginning of the Mennonite Brethren denomination in Canada, which in that country has now numbered nearly 200 congregations. After immigration helped this church get established, its story is that of urbanization.

Neufeld points up the dominant theme of missions and tells the story of outreach efforts after the language transition from German to English took place. The Mennonite Brethren churches of the Northern District of Manitoba are one of the results. He writes with sensitivity about the controversies of the early efforts of the Winnipeg City Mission. The story of home missions and church extension make up a major portion of his text, but he gives account of other ventures as well. Hospital chaplaincy, radio programming which led to the creation of Mennonite Brethren Communications, development of Sunday schools, music and choirs, youth work, student services, Bible schools, private high schools, Bible conferences, relief efforts, counselling and health care facilities (some on an inter-Mennonite basis) are the major topics which are explored.

Those who expect to find a history text with the latest listing of the congregations of the Mennonite Brethren Church in Manitoba, their physical facilities, leaders and programs will be disappointed. Neufeld understands that “church” is not buildings but people and what they do in the service of the Head of the Church. His brief chapters are packed with information and his excellent style of historical writing reflects his {129} years of teaching literature and history as well as his rare talent of articulation, evident also in his sermons. The photographs of people, historical buildings and events are an additional bonus and add interest to this very fine volume.

Frank Isaak
Retired Educator, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Now residing in Clearbrook, British Columbia

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