Classification scheme: 

Title: The Secret Church drama project

Dates of creation: 1974-1984, 2022

Physical description: 3 cm of textual records

Administrative history: In 1974, Ferne Burkhardt and Elaine Cressman decided to plan the Wilmot district Winter Bible School around the theme of the 450th anniversary of the Anabaptist movement (1975). They chose to adapt Louise A. Vernon's The Secret Church, a historical novel for children about a family of early Swiss Anabaptists, as a drama. Following the six-week course for junior and junior high students, the local community expressed interest in seeing a production. Gladys Cressman stepped in as director. The cast was chosen largely from the Bible School participants.

The Secret Church was performed at Steinmann Mennonite Church (September 1975), the Festival of Joy (University of Waterloo, October 1975), Rockway Mennonite School (Remembrance Day, 1975), and the "Waterloo 79" conference (University of Waterloo, August 1979). A special benefit performance for victims of a tornado in Woodstock, Ontario was performed at the University of Waterloo in September 1979. The script was later published in The Foundation Series Sunday School material (1984).

Custodial history: Donated to the Archives in 2022 by Brenda Kirkland from materials collected and created by Elaine Cressman.

Scope and content: Fonds consists of correspondence, an incomplete script, programs, news clippings and a description of the origins of the play.

Notes: See also the published script printed in: Helen Krueger. The New Way. Grades 5&6. Year 2, Quarter 2 in The Foundation Series. Scottdale, Pa.: Mennonite Publishing House, 1984; Louise A. Vernon. The Secret Church. Kitchener, Ont.: Herald Press, 1967. Copies are located in the Milton Good Library. 

Original archival description created 2022 by Laureen Harder-Gissing.

File list:

  1. Correspondence
    Note: Includes review notes of the script by Urie Bender and a short paper on the origins of the play by Elaine Cressman titled "Studying Church History Can Be Fun."
  2. Programs and news clippings
  3. An original script (incomplete) and a photocopy of the script as published in The Foundation Series.


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Mennonite Archives of Ontario
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140 Westmount Road North
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