As a self-described church nerd, I love to learn about my larger church family, and I’ve found much to explore online related to the Anabaptist-Mennonite world. I’m curious about my faith family’s projects past and present; I appreciate hearing stories of faithfulness and failure; I gain insight into the values and vision that have guided my siblings in the faith. One of the joys of my work with Canadian Mennonite has been the privilege to explore and connect with “my” people in this way.
If you like to dig deeper into things Mennonite, you’re probably already accessing some of this varied content. In a previous editorial, I suggested that you follow Mennonites on social media. But there are other places online where you can learn about and be inspired by our family of faith. Some sites even invite you to contribute to the community’s body of knowledge.
Here are a few to explore:
Bearing Witness Stories Project
A classic text of the Anabaptist community is the Martyrs Mirror, first published in 1660. It contains stories of Christians who suffered and died as witnesses of their faith, from the days of the first followers of Christ and into the 17th century. A recent project seeks to continue that tradition of storytelling through sharing “stories of believers from around the world who have continued to bear witness to their faith at great cost.”
The website includes accounts from Africa, Middle East, Asia, Australia, Latin America, Europe and North America. It is “meant to be interactive and collaborative,” with an invitation for today’s Anabaptists to share their own stories of costly witness.
If you like exploring Mennonite life and history through photos, there are treasures to be found on this photo-sharing website. Searches here will turn up collections of photos posted by Mennonite World Conference, Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA. I’ve particularly enjoyed browsing in the archival collections of MC USA Archives, with over 10,000 photos of the church’s history in North America and beyond.
The Global Anabaptist Encyclopedia Online is the place to go for information on many aspects of our church life and history. It includes “information on Anabaptist-related congregations, denominations, conferences, institutions and significant individuals, as well as historical and theological topics.”
The GAMEO team is continually adding new topics and updates. You can spend a lot of time browsing there because the entries include links to other related topics and information on sources. An orientation video is available here.
Some Mennonites have a soft spot for genealogy, and online databases can help them find information about certain branches of their family.
For example, the GRANDMA database includes over 1.3 million names of people of Russian Mennonite ancestry. The website Ezra Eby Revived! collects family information on Ontario Mennonites, Amish and Brethren in Christ families. This database updates and continues a collection that began as a book compiled by Ezra Eby in the 1800s.
Note: I don’t know of any genealogy efforts for the many Mennonites around the world who don’t come from these two historical streams. If you do, please include information in the web comments below.
Global Anabaptist Wiki
This collaborative venture describes itself as follows: “The Global Anabaptist Wiki is an interactive information sharing community of Anabaptist-Mennonite groups from around the world run by the Institute for the Study of Global Anabaptism.” Here, you will find electronic versions of Anabaptist public-domain resources in a variety of languages, including theological documents like confessions of faith, content in audio format, and more.
Like in other wiki projects, registered users can contribute content, including articles, stories, electronic documents, pictures, video and audio resources.
Mennonite Archival Information Database (MAID)
If you follow “Moment from Yesterday” in the print edition of Canadian Mennonite, you’ve already seen historical photos that come from this image-based website. This collaborative project calls itself “a discovery site for Mennonite archives,” and offers historical photos and descriptions from the collections of 15 archival partners.
MAID is a great place to browse, but you can also search for specific subjects. The site also welcomes information about images that have incomplete descriptions.
Mennonite Church Canada
Canadian Mennonite serves primarily the people, congregations and regional churches that make up the denomination called Mennonite Church Canada. Official documents that relate to MC Canada are available for its members to access. At the website CommonWord you will find the minutes of the Joint Council, the decision-making group for the denomination. Other official finance and governance documents can be found there, as well report books and news from past delegate assemblies. Go to www.mennonitechurch.ca/resources.
Together in Worship
This relatively new website is a collaboration of several Anabaptist partners and describes itself as “a curated collection of free online resources from Anabaptist sources that support communal Christian worship.” The aim is to collect words, music, and other artistic expressions that are available for use in worship. Visitors are free to use resources in their own settings and to contribute to the collection. Resources are also highlighted on the Together in Worship Facebook page.
Explorers can discover much more at sites of Anabaptist-Mennonite historical societies, museums, visitors centres, archives and institutions of higher education. At those spots you will find links to publications and recordings of public lectures; and news about upcoming events, tours, exhibits and courses. Some examples:
- Mennonite Historical Society of Canada
- Institute for the Study of Global Anabaptism
- Centre for Transnational Mennonite Studies
- Institute of Mennonite Studies
- Institute of Anabaptist and Mennonite Studies
- Mennonite Heritage Archives
- Mennonite Archives of Ontario
- Mennonite Church USA
Where have your online explorations taken you? Feel free to drop suggestions in the web comments for other places about and by our Anabaptist family of faith.