Classification scheme: 
II-5.1

Title: Mennonite Benefit Association fonds

Dates of creation: 1933-2014

Physical description: 44 cm of textual records

Administrative history: In 1932, the Mennonite Conference of Ontario appointed a committee to explore how the conference could provide a systematic mutual aid plan for ill and needy members. The Mennonite Aid Union, which sprung from a conference initiative in 1866, already provided an alternative to property insurance. In the 1930s, the conference was concerned that life insurance, medical insurance and other products were also making inroads in Mennonite communities. Commercial insurance companies and other non-Mennonite bodies that provided similar services were theologically objectionable to many Mennonite groups because these organizations were willing to engage in litigation, and affiliation with them weakened the bonds of community within the church. Traditionally, aid to fellow members in Mennonite Church congregations was coordinated by local deacons, however by the 1930s there was an acknowledgement that this more informal system was weakening.

In 1947, the Mennonite Benefit Association was incorporated in Ontario to "alleviate the financial burdens of the members of the Association in case of sickness, disability or death and...give financial aid to any member in time of need." The new organization had a mutual aid emphasis; the goal was not only to lighten the burden of the individual member, but also to provide each member with the opportunity to support their fellow church members in time of need. Membership was open to any member of a Mennonite church, and later to Brethren in Christ members. Participating congregations each appointed a director to attend the annual meeting. An executive met regularly during the year to transact business, including approving new members and disbursements. Each member paid an annual assessment, and reserve funds were generated through a series of investments.

The organization decided to cease operations in 2014. Reasons given include a decline in membership, increasing health costs and new government requirements that led to a deficit, the increasing availability of insurance programs through employers, and waning interest in the concept of mutual aid.

Custodial history: Donated to the Archives in 2015 by the Mennonite Benefit Association executive. Received from Nancy Gingerich. A few of the early, formational records came to the Archives via the Mennonite Conference of Ontario at an earlier date.

Scope and content: This fonds documents the activities of the Mennonite Benefit Association from early discussions about its formation within the Mennonite Conference of Ontario, to its incorporation, administration and dissolution. Detailed minutes are provided of frequent executive meetings and regular annual meetings. Claim approvals to individuals are detailed in the executive meetings.

Notes: An encyclopedia entry for this organization may be found in GAMEO.
See also: Rogalsky, Dave. "Another Mutual Aid Organization Calls it Quits." Canadian Mennonite, Nov 10, 2014, 25.
Original archival description created 2021 by Laureen Harder-Gissing.

File list:

  1. Formation, 1933-1947
  2. Incorporation documents, 1947, 1948
  3. Lists of congregational directors, 1967-1980
  4. Constitutions, brochures, forms and miscellaneous correspondence
    Note: Also includes burial aid accounts, 1949-1953
  5. Other mutual aid societies
  6. Minutes (restricted)
    Note: Includes minutes of the executive, annual meeting minutes and financial statements. Since many of the minutes reference personal medical information, this file is restricted as per Archives policy. To access this file, consult the Archivist.

Hours

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Contact

Mennonite Archives of Ontario
Conrad Grebel University College
140 Westmount Road North
Waterloo, ON N2L 3G6

Phone: 519-885-0220 x24238

Email: marchive@uwaterloo.ca