Classification scheme: 
Hist. Mss. 1.26

Title: Frank H. Epp fonds

Dates of creation: 1953-1986

Physical description: 27.4 m of textual records

Biographical sketch: Frank H. Epp (25 May 1929-22 Jan 1986) was a churchman, journalist, educator, and author. Born in Lena, Manitoba, he studied at the Canadian Mennonite Bible College in Winnipeg, Manitoba where he completed a Bachelor of Theology degree in 1953. He studied for nine months at Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas where he completed his Bachelor of Arts degreee in 1956. He attended graduate school at the University of Minnesota from 1959-1965.

Epp began his professional career as a public school teacher and was professor of history at Conrad Grebel College at the time of his death in Kitchener, Ontario. He was president of Conrad Grebel College, 1973-79. Under his leadership the college expanded to include a new academic building as well as programs in music and peace and conflict studies. An ordained minister, he was a part-time pastor in four Mennonite congregations in Canada and the United States.

His extensive public writing career began in 1951 as editor of the Jugendseite, the youth section of Der Bote, which served General Conference Mennonite youth in Canada. As founding editor of The Canadian Mennonite (1953-67) and Mennonite Reporter (1971-73) he exercised a broad and sometimes controversial influence among Mennonites in Canada at a time when many of them were in a language transition from German to English.

From 1957-63 he was director and regular speaker for the Conference of Mennonites in Manitoba's "Abundant Life" radio program. During most of this time he also served the Board of Christian Service of the Conference of Mennonites in Canada in various capacities. He was a board member of Mennonite Central Committee Canada from its inception in 1963 until his death and was chairman of the international MCC Peace Section, 1979-86. From 1972-78 he was on the presidium of Mennonite World Conference (see XV-3).

Beyond the Mennonite churches, Epp served on four committees of the Canadian Council of Churches (1967-73) and was appointed to two advisory bodies by the federal government (Immigration, 1968-77, and Multiculturalism, 1980-85). For two years (1970-71) he served as executive director of the World Federalists of Canada, and since 1980 was active in the United Nations Association of Canada. In the 1979 and 1980 federal parliamentary elections he was a candidate for the Liberal Party in the Waterloo (Ontario) constituency.

Epp's research travels, related to peace education and writing projects, included numerous trips to the Middle East (6), Southeast Asia (3), and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (3). Epp's twelve books include three on the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East and three on Mennonites in Canada. These included Mennonites in Canada, volumes I and II; he was working on volume III at the time of his death. His other books deal with educational institutions and with peace and refugee concerns.

In 1953 Epp married Helen Dick of Leamington, Ontario. They had three daughters and one son.

Custodial history: Twenty-two filing cabinets of records were donated to the Mennonite Archives of Ontario by Helen Epp about 1990. Other records were received from the College. Funeral and memorial service cassette tapes were donated by Helen Epp in 2024.

Scope and content: The fonds reflects Epp's professional and political careers, his volunteer services, his writing projects, family life, and his wide-ranging personal and academic interests. Further details of the contents of the fonds are to be found in the series, file, and item descriptions.

The fonds is divided into five series:

  • Series 1: Subject files
  • Series 2: Miscellaneous files
  • Series 3: Personal files
  • Series 4: Tract collection
  • Series 5: Realia
  • Series 6: Obituaries and memorial services
    Physical description: 1 cm of textual materials ; 6 audio cassette tapes
    Scope and content: Includes published obituaries, news clippings, tributes, and programs of memorial services for Frank H. Epp; and the text of a meditation by J.M. Klassen given at a memorial service held at Bethel Mennonite Church, Winnipeg, 6 Feb 1986. Audio cassette tapes of the funeral service and reception (25 Jan 1986, 3 tapes), Rockway Mennonite Church worship service tribute with the performance of Bach's Cantata no. 82 (2 Feb 1986, 1 tape), memorial service at Bethel Mennonite Church, Winnipeg (6 Feb 1986, 1 tape), and memorial service at Bergthaler Mennonite Church, Altona (9 Feb 1986, 1 tape).

Note: For published works by Frank Epp, consult the CGUC library catalogue.
For archival records related to Frank Epp in other fonds or collections, search the archives website.
A number of photographs that are a part of this fonds have not yet been processed.

Original archival description created 2011 and updated 2024 by Laureen Harder-Gissing


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

Phone: 519-885-0220 x24238