Doug J. Heidebrecht is the 2016 recipient of the Mennonite Brethren Historical Commission’s Katie Funk Wiebe research grant. After the annual general meeting held this year in Abbotsford, British Columbia (June 3–4, 2016), the Commission awarded the grant to Doug Heidebrecht for his research project: Sisters Leading Brothers? Mennonite Brethren and Women in Ministry Leadership.
The Commission was impressed with the project design and its potential for understanding better the experience of Mennonite Brethren engagement with the question of women in church ministry leadership. The project focuses on the years between 1954 and 2010.
According to Heidebrecht, “over a period of fifty years, Mennonite Brethren have attempted to respond to questions about the role of women in the church through four study conferences (1974, 1980, 1989, 2004-05) and in nine resolutions (1957, 1975, 1981, 1984, 1987, 1990, 1993, 1999, 2006). These have often been difficult and even painful conversations. No other issue has received this level of attention by Mennonite Brethren during the second half of the twentieth century.”
Heidebrecht plans to complete a manuscript that “would not only tell the story of the Mennonite Brethren journey regarding the issue of women in ministry leadership but also, through careful reflection, offer suggestions for how Mennonite Brethren can continue to read the Scriptures together as they seek to live faithfully as God’s people.”
“Doug’s research documents the long history of how women have served in the Mennonite Brethren church, noting both the affirmations and restrictions that have come along the way based on particular ways of reading Scripture. A project like this honours the path that Katie Funk Wiebe has charted, reminding us of the gifts that both men and women can bring to the church,” says Don Isaac, Commission chair.
The $2,000 research grant is made possible with support from the Katie Funk Wiebe fund.
For more information, see the Commission website.
—Jon Isaak, executive secretary, Historical Commission