Classification scheme: 

Title: Wilmer Martin fonds

Dates of creation1945-2012; predominant 1970-1990

Physical description: 1.8 m of textual records, photographs, cassette tapes

Biographical sketch: Wilmer Ray Martin (1945- ) was born to Omar Martin and Anna (Kuhns) Martin near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. He was ordained by lot as a minister in the Chambersburg Mennonite Church in 1964, at the age of 18, to assist his minister father. On Oct. 2, 1965 he married Janet Ranck (1945-2016) of Lancaster, Pennsylvania; they had two children—Janelle and Alan. Wilmer and Janet both attended Ontario Mennonite Bible School and Institute beginning in fall 1965. After graduation from OMBS & I in 1968, Wilmer served two pastorates in Ontario: Tavistock Mennonite (1968-1978) and Erb Street Mennonite (1978-1991). After this he became the President & CEO of Habitat for Humanity Canada (1991-2000), located in Waterloo.

In the 1970s Wilmer became a tour leader, and in 1982 a partner in TourMagination, a Mennonite-oriented travel company. He became fulltime President of TourMagination in 2000; a role he continued until his retirement in 2016. In this capacity he organized and led many tours throughout the world.

Wilmer furthered his education while pastoring. He received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Waterloo in 1980 and a Master of Theological Studies from Waterloo Lutheran Seminary in 1989.

Wilmer and Janet became members of the Waterloo North Mennonite Church in 1996, and transferred their membership to the St. Agatha Mennonite Church in 2002.

Wilmer Martin accepted numerous leadership roles within the Western Ontario Mennonite Conference, the Mennonite Conference of Ontario & Quebec (MCOQ), and within the larger Mennonite Church (MC) denomination. These included service on the executive of the Western Ontario Mennonite Conference (1971-1978), chairing the Personnel Committee of the Mennonite Conference of Ontario & Quebec (1984-1988), chairing the Mennonite Conference of Eastern Canada Leadership Commission (1988-1991), serving on the executive of the Inter-Mennonite Conference (Ontario)(1973-1978); serving on the Mennonite Church Student Services Committee (1977-1981), co-chairing the Mennonite Church and General Conference Mennonite Church Task Force on Human Sexuality in the Christian Life (1981-1988), chairing Mennonite Publishing Service (Mennonite Reporter) (1979-1989), chairing Shalom Counselling Services of Waterloo Region (1988-1991), member, Conrad Grebel College Board of Governors (1994-2000), member, Mennonite Board of Education (1989-1994).

Custodial history: Donated to the Archives by Wilmer Martin in 2014

Scope and content: The records consist of six series: 1) Correspondence (1974-1991); 2) Student papers from seminary studies (1968-1989); 3) Documents related Martin’s service on Mennonite Church’s Task Force on Human Sexuality in the Christian Life (1981-1987); 4) Pastoral resources; 5) Family Information and Memorabilia; 6) Sermons.

Notes: For photographs related to Wilmer Martin search the Mennonite Archival Image Database.
Further materials related to Wilmer Martin may be found by searching the Archives.
Records related to Wilmer Martin's pastorate at Chambersburg Mennonite Church and his involvement with TourMagination have been deposited with the Mennonite Historical Association of the Cumberland Valley in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.
Original archival description created 2017 by Sam Steiner.

File list:

Series 1: Correspondence

Scope and content: Most letters deal with congregational activities, Martin’s academic studies, his various conference positions, his community activities, and travel with TourMagination and other groups.

Series 2: Papers written for Undergraduate and Graduate Courses

  1. Christ and Contemporary Man (2 take home exams, n.d.)
  2. The Apostle Paul (Take home exam, n.d.)
  3. “The Nature of the Church,” 1968 (OMBI)
  4. Historical Jesus Study: “The Lord’s Prayer: Prayer—communication with our Father,” 1971
  5. Family & Kinship: “The matrix of my family as an influence shaping my personality,” 1974 (Autobiographical)
  6. Utopian Communities: “Summary of settlers at Hunta, Ontario,”1975
  7. Mennonite History: “The history of Tavistock Mennonite Church (1942-1975),”1975
  8. Sociology of Law: “News Clippings and Interpretations,” 1975
  9. Sociological Analysis of Social Problems: “Scrapbook and Analyses,” plus Take-home exam,1976
  10. Canadian Minorities: “The Training and Molding of Character in Hutterite Life,” 1976
  11. Sociology of the Mennonite Community: “Movements into and out of the Mennonite Church (Waterloo County), 1950-1971, 1976 (with Barbara Gatschene), plus take home exam
  12. Christian Moral Decisionmaking: “Premarital Sexual Relationships: a Plea for Responsible Moral and Ethical Choices,” 1977
  13. “Homosexuality – ‘Working toward an Understanding of Persons with Homosexual Feelings’,” 1977
  14. Art and Society: “Charles Monroe Schulz: a Man revealing Religious Values amidst Life’s Struggles,” 1978
  15. Issues in Mass Communication: “Canada’s Native People—the Indians: ‘a Plea for Recognition and Understanding,’” 1978
  16. Sociology 467G: “The Recovery of Mutual Aid in the Urban Mennonite Church,” 1979
  17. Sociology 466G: “Conceptions of Leadership Roles in Two Branches of the Mennonite Brotherhood in Ontario,” 1979
  18. Studies in Family Life: “Fit to be Tied: On Marriage and Marriage Checkups,” 1979
  19. Religion and Film: “The Magician: a Look at the Incarnation, the God-Man Relationships,” 1979
  20. Family Life: “Premarital Sexual Relationships: a Plea for Responsible Moral and Ethical Choices,” 1980
  21. Religion in the 1980s: “The Quest for Authority: an Issue confronting the Church,” 1980
  22. Aging, Dying and Death: “Providing Pastoral Care to the Bereaved,” 1980
  23. Art and Society: “The Grapes of Wrath: an Indictment Against Social Injustice,” 1980
  24. Religion in Film: Judgement at Nuremberg: a Bitter Question of Man’s Guilt,” 1980
  25. Church and Ministry: “An Autobiographical Statement on Church and Ministry” and “Fit to be Tied: On Marriage and Marriage Checkups,” 1981
  26. New Testament Introduction: “The Role of the Law according to Paul,” and “Paper on Letters of Paul,”, 1981
  27. Marriage and Family Counseling: “Field Project on Family Systems Analysis,” 1982
  28. Marriage and Family Counseling: “A Model in Pastoral Care: Marriage Enrichment Retreat for Mid-Year Couples, ‘Making a Good Marriage Better’,” 1982
  29. Literature of the Old Testament: “Creation, Genesis 1 and Creation, Genesis 2—the Stories compared,” 1983
  30. Literature of the Old Testament: “Jeremiah’s Call: Prophet to the Nations,” 1984
  31. Directed Study: “Human Sexuality in the Christian Life,” 1984/85
  32. Pastoral Care of the Grief Sufferer: “Quest for Meaning in Facing Terminal Illness” and “Wilmer Martin’s Journal,” 1985
  33. Ministering to Lower Income Persons: “Incest: Child Sexual Abuse,” 1986
  34. Church History: “Evaluation of ‘Women in the Church and at the Seminary’,” 1987
  35. Church History: “Journal for Church History: the Modern Period,” 1988
  36. Introduction to Christian Doctrine: “Fall and Sin: as Interpreted by Influential Mennonite Leaders in the early 1900’s” plus take home exam, 1988
  37. Introduction to Christian Doctrine: “Justification and Sanctification as interpreted by Johann Arndt” plus take home exam, 1989
  38. Comprehensive Seminar: “Providing Pastoral Care for Families of Homosexual Persons,” 1989

Series 3: Task Force on Human Sexuality in the Christian Life

Administrative history: Wilmer Martin was co-chair, along with Sue Goerzen of Windsor, Ontario, of the Task Force on Human Sexuality, a body created by both the General Conference Mennonite Church (1980) and the Mennonite Church (1981). The Task Force met from 1982-1987, and issued a study document in 1985, Human Sexuality in the Christian Life. After receipt of feedback from congregations, area conferences and individuals, both the General Conference Mennonite Church and Mennonite Church approved resolutions on human sexuality known as Saskatoon ’86 and Purdue ’87 (named after of the locations of the assemblies). These statements formed the basis of the denominations’ position on sexuality into the 2000s.

  1. Task Force Minutes and Mennonite Church Assembly related activity,
  2. Correspondence
    Undated, 1981-1988
  3. Draft document and related correspondence, Human Sexuality in the Christian Life, 1985. Includes copy of final published document.
  4. Congregational responses to Task Force’s draft document,
  5. Report of Task Force to Saskatoon ’86 assembly of General Conference Mennonite Church, 1986
  6. Resources for Human Sexuality document’s section on Sexual Expressions, 1977-1984
  7. Documents received by Task Force related to homosexuality, 1981-1986
  8. Workshop: Mennonite Conference of Ontario & Quebec, Central District Winter Bible School, Jan.-Feb. 1984
  9. Workshop: MCOQ Quarterly Ministers Meeting, 1984
  10. Workshop: MCOQ Winter Bible School, 1986
  11. Workshop: Hidden Acres Teen Sexuality Seminar, 1986
  12. Workshop resources, 1985-1986
  13. University of Guelph Conferences on Sexuality (Registration materials, documents, notes) attended by Martin
    1984 (Sexuality: a Search for Values)
    1986 (The Changing Nature of Relationships: Sexual Scripts & Lifestyles Today)
    1987 (Sexuality: Today’s Personal and Social Dilemmas)
    1988 (In Search of Healthy Sexuality)
  14. Resources on Homosexuality collected by Martin (clippings, unpublished papers, statements), 1977-1988
  15. Periodical resources on Sexuality and Homosexuality gathered by Martin, e.g. Time magazine, Newsweek, Playboy, Ministry, Windy City Times (Gay & Lesbian Newsweekly), Xtra: Gay Guide to Toronto, Keystone Queer, 1967-1988

Series 4: Pastoral Resources

Scope and content: These folders were assembled by Wilmer Martin on a variety of themes he found helpful in his ministry. They contain clippings, articles, notes, pamphlets and similar materials.

  1. Alcohol and Drug Concerns, 1966-1970s; predominately mid-1970s
  2. Children’s Story: The Giving Tree (includes overheads)
  3. Children’s Stories (Includes overheads and notes)
  4. Church Membership, 1971-75
  5. Couples Groups, 1970s
  6. Creative Worship (includes litanies, choral readings, and reflective items on worship), 1970s?
  7. Divorce & Remarriage
  8. Family Life Seminar (similar to Couple Groups above)
  9. (from Martin’s years on Mennonite Church Student Services Committee; the published issues of Forum have been removed; remaining are Ontario-related student services materials). See Milton R. Good Library for copies of Forum.
  10. Group Experiences (small groups)
  11. I Used to Know a lot about Sex (a presentation, along with overhead slides)
  12. I’m OK, You’re OK (workshop on transactional analysis)
  13. Interpersonal Relationships (a course from 1969/70)
  14. Lotteries, 1974-1976
  15. Marriage enrichment, early 1970s
  16. Mennonite Research Journal (historical Mennonite periodicals, including Mennonite Historian, Mennonite Historical Bulletin, Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage, The Mirror, and the booklet by Frank H. Epp, Stories with meaning. They have all been removed from the file; copies can be seen the Milton R. Good Library.
  17. Pre-Marital Counseling (includes overhead slides)
  18. Religious Drama (primarily scripts for short worship dramas)
  19. Small groups (evangelism through small groups; house fellowships, small congregations), early 1970s
  20. Stories, jokes
  21. Tavistock Mennonite Church special programs and clippings (also contains special programs from other Mennonite churches, 1970s)
  22. Who are the Mennonites?
  23. Worship Ideas
  24. Funeral/memorial services, 1974-2012; primarily 1980s
  25. Erb Street Mennonite church special services and events, 1978-1991 (includes Wilmer Martin’s installation as pastor, and correspondence around his acceptance of the position)

Series 5: Family Information and Memorabilia

  1. Wilmer Martin’s baby book, 1945-1947?; includes a few greeting cards
  2. Diplomas and degrees earned by Wilmer Martin and Janet Martin
    1963 (Lancaster Mennonite High School)
    1968 (Ontario Mennonite Bible Institute)
    1980 (University of Waterloo, BA)
    1989 (Waterloo Lutheran Seminary, MTS)
  3. Letters of support after Wilmer Martin’s ordination, 1964 (see audio tapes for recording of ordination service); also includes one letter from grandmother in 1986
  4. Included in folder 7
  5. Children’s story, “This is our life” about growing up years of Wilmer Martin and Janet Ranck, 1978 (used when Wilmer became pastor at Erb Street Mennonite Church)
  6. Articles written by Wilmer Martin for Tavistock Gazette, 1970s
  7. Memorabilia on special events in Wilmer & Janet’s life, as well as clippings about Wilmer and Janet Martin. Includes program for speaking (1964), wedding invitation (1965), 20th anniversary of ordination (1984), letters of resignation from Tavistock Mennonite Church (1977) and Erb St. Mennonite Church (1991), etc.
  8. Personal journal, 1987
  9. Habitat for Humanity Canada, n.d., 2000-2006. Includes undated children’s book about a Habitat for Humanity build, and letters of support following Wilmer Martin’s termination at Habitat for Humanity Canada (2000)
  10. Building Bridges: Mediations by Wilmer Martin. Morgantown, Pa.: Masthof Press, 2009.
  11. Farewell scrapbook compiled when Wilmer Martin ended his pastorate at Erb Street Mennonite Church, 1991. Includes cards, pages designed by church members, and numerous photographs commemorating the years at Erb Street (1978-1991)

Series 6: Sermons

  1. Colossians
  2. Philippians
  3. Ephesians
  4. Galatians
  5. Romans
  6. Acts
  7. Mark
  8. Matthew
  9. Habakkuk to Malachi, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah
  10. Amos to Nahum, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah
  11. Ezra to Job, Nehemiah, Esther
  12. Lamentations to Joel, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea
  13. Proverbs to Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes
  14. Psalms
  15. Isaiah
  16. Jeremiah
  17. I & II Samuel to I & II Chronicles, I & II Kings
  18. Joshua to Ruth, Judges
  19. Genesis to Deuteronomy, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers
  20. Presentations/Sermons related to Habitat for Humanity
  21. Revelation
  22. I John
  23. I & II Peter
  24. James
  25. Hebrews
  26. Titus, Philemon
  27. I & II Thessalonians
  28. I & II Timothy
  29. II Corinthians
  30. I Corinthians
  31. Luke
  32. John
  33. Locations of sermons preached


Generally 9:00 am - 4:00 pm Monday to Friday. An appointment in advance is recommended.


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

Phone: 519-885-0220 x24238