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The Mennonite Benevolent Society

The Mennonite Benevolent Society was incorporated on December 19, 1945 and registered as a charitable organization for the purpose of establishing a Home to be known as "Bethania - A Home for the Aged and Infirm".

The original incorporation document of the Society included a very broad purposes statement:

    1. Relief and maintenance of its members and their families during sickness, infirmity, widowhood or maintenance of the orphan children of members
    2. Relief and maintenance of the members when unemployed,
    3. Facilitate social interaction
    4. Establish library associations or mechanics institutes for the benefit of its members,
    5. To advance colonization and settlement within the province,
    6. For any benevolent or charitable purpose not connected with trade or commerce.

This was the second initiative by the leaders of the Mennonite Hospital Society Concordia, which in 1928 had established the Concordia Hospital in response to the needs of the large group of recently arrived Mennonite immigrants to Winnipeg and surrounding areas.

So in 1945 land with existing buildings was purchased and renovated and developed and the soon to be opened institution would be named "Bethania Home for the Aged and Infirm" (Alten und Invalidenheim Bethania).

The site of the original Home was in the area known as Parkdale and was striking for the beauty of its setting, situated on the west bank of the Red River, just north of Middlechurch. (The current site of Bethania Mennonite Personal Care Home is located at 1045 Concordia Ave., adjacent to Concordia Hospital at 1095 Concordia Hospital.) See Bethania Mennonite Personal Care Homes at http://www.bethania.ca/bethania-pch/ and Concordia Hospital at http://www.concordiahospital.mb.ca/

It was important to the Society that as many Mennonite districts as possible be represented on the Board of Directors. Those districts not represented on the Board were urged to appoint spokespersons who would maintain contact with Bethania and the Board and facilitate the exchange of pertinent communication between the Board and the districts.

In 1990, after many years of discussion about the real and potential interrelationships of the Society and its related organizations, a motion was presented to a membership meeting, and passed and ratified at the annual meetings of Concordia and Bethania. The motion recognized that the memberships of the Mennonite Hospital Society Concordia, the Bethania Mennonite Personal Care Home, Autumn House and the Mennonite Benevolent Society, comprised of about 400 members, were identical. The motion called for an amendment to the by-laws of the Mennonite Benevolent /society to accept Concordia, Bethania, and Autumn House as separate legal boards, elected by one membership of the Mennonite Benevolent Society as divisions of acute care, long term care and seniors housing.

The By-laws of Concordia Hospital, Bethania, Autumn House and the Mennonite Benevolent Society require that members elected to their Boards be members of the Society. New programs and reports are presented to members of the Society at annual or special meetings. In this manner, the Society membership serves in areas where mutual support is beneficial to uphold the vision of Christian oriented health service.

Statement of Purpose
The Mennonite Benevolent Society is an association of persons who are committed to the nurture and expression of their Christian faith by responding to the health needs of acute and long term care clients in a broad continuum of sites and services:

1. Acute Care

  • Concordia Hospital

2. Personal Care Homes

  • Bethania Mennonite Personal Care Home
  • Pembina Place Mennonite Personal Care Home
  • Concordia Place

3. Supportive Housing/Assisted Living Program

  • ArlingtonHaus

4. Elderly Persons Housing

  • Autumn House
  • Bethania House
  • Kingsford Haus

Ukraine Ministry
In the late 1990, Mennonite tourists coming back from travels to Ukraine in search of their roots, told of the hardships and poor living conditions suffered so many in present Ukraine. Particularly vulnerable were seniors in both rural and urban areas, who suffered as a result of poverty, loneliness, and illness.

These reports came with the question of whether the Benevolent Society together with the expertise of the related organizations, particularly Bethania and Concordia, could develop and program to address some of those needs.

As a result, a feasibility study was done, and a Registered Charity named "The Mennonite Family Centre" was registered as a charity in the oblast of Zaporizhzhya in January 2002. This charity has its own By-laws and is managed by its own 5 member Board of Directors, and through an Agency Agreement, carries out the mandate given it by the Mennonite Benevolent Society.


The Mennonite Benevolent Society Structure
The By-laws of Concordia Hospital, Bethania, Autumn House and The Mennonite Benevolent Society require that members elected to their Boards be members of the Society. (Concordia Hospital also appoints several members-at-large representing the broader community.) New programs and reports are presented to members of the Society at annual or special meetings. In this manner, the Society membership serves where mutual support is beneficial to uphold the vision of Christian oriented health service.

The Society is a member of the Mennonite Health Services in Manitoba association, which in turn is affiliated with an Interfaith Health Council, through which efforts to influence Manitoba government health policy are being coordinated.

Applications for membership in the Society are invited from anyone with current membership in a Mennonite Church congregation and who is supportive of the "Statement of Purpose". There is a one-time lifetime membership fee of $50.00.

The Mennonite Benevolent Society Board
The MBS Board consists of the following:                                                                                                 

Robert Friesen, Chair

Kornelius Loewen, Vice Chair

Harvey Dyck, Secretary                                                                            

Corey Andres, Treasurer                                                                                                    

Edward Dyck                                                                                                                        

Revita Dyck                                                                                                                      

Noreen Gafic                  

Lawrence Hamm, representing the Bethania Mennonite Personal Care Homes Board  

Rudolph H. Peters, representing the Autumn House Board                                                                

Fred Loewen, representing the Concordia Hospital Board

The Project Director
The Project Director, Ukraine Ministry is Louie Sawatzky