Bible school reunion will celebrate friendships

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

An old picture of the Ontario Mennonite Bible School in Kitchener, OntarioFor many generations the Ontario Mennonite Bible School and Institute (OMBS & I) was the focal point of church leadership and theological education. Young people from across Canada and the northern United States found their way to First Mennonite Church in Kitchener and participated in a program that shaped their faith and trained them for leadership. It also was a place where life-long friendships were made.

A reunion of OMBS & I alumni, former students and faculty is being planned for August 13-15, 2004. A group of these “young people” from the Kitchener-Waterloo area felt it was time to reconnect with old friends and celebrate the contribution to the church that OMBS & I has made. A reunion was last held in 1994 at First Mennonite. This time, the event will be hosted at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo and a broad invitation is going out to OMBS & I alumni and friends from outside of Ontario, to stay at the College during the reunion.

Hosting this reunion is a tangible way for Conrad Grebel to connect its current mission of theological education with an earlier era,

noted Grebel’s President, Henry Paetkau.

One of the Reunion Committee organizers, Paul Martin, remembers being a teacher at OMBS&I from 1953 - 1963 as one of the high points in his fifty years of ministry.

It was spiritually invigorating to be with some of the finest young people from across Canada and many of the northern States, as together we focused our minds and lives toward Christian Service. I look forward to a gathering of some of these people, a reunion which could very well be our last.

The committee is trying to contact alumni and former students from various geographic areas across Canada and the USA. Organizers want to leave lots of time for people to relax and visit with old friends, and perhaps even reconnect with a quartet or trio. Weekend plans include class reunions, local tours, participation with First Mennonite Church for Sunday worship, and a fundraising banquet for the Ralph and Eileen Lebold Endowment for Leadership Training. Ralph Lebold is an alumnus of OMBI & I and has been heavily involved in theological education in his past work with conference and as president of Conrad Grebel University College.

[Lebold notes that] historically, the church called persons to various forms of service, including pastoral ministry, from the ranks of the Bible School. This reunion, sponsored by Conrad Grebel, recognizes the relationship between what the college is doing today in undergraduate and graduate education and the role OMBS & I previously played.

In addition to Paul Martin, other Reunion organizers include Lester Kehl, Elsie Kuepfer, Florence Jantzi, Amzie Brubacher, and Laverne and Norma Martin. Former students, faculty and alumni can contact Elsie at 519-653-0296 or Fred W. Martin at Conrad Grebel University College.Grebels website for registration details.

An old picture of the whole school members

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