By Jessica Griggs for Mennonite Church USA
ELKHART, Ind. (Mennonite Church USA) — Despite a tradition of recording vital records that has spanned more than 150 years, Mennonites in North America have not had access to a free method of recording their families’ births, deaths and marriages for the past year. To remedy this issue, the Mennonite Church USA (MC USA) Archives has created an easy-to-use and free method of recording and memorializing these records, through the Mennonite Church USA Archives Vital Record form on the Archives website.
Jason Kauffman, MC USA’s director of archives and records management, said, “Until recently, we had an agreement in which The Mennonite magazine forwarded birth, marriage and death announcements to the archives. Volunteers would then enter obituary information into the MennObits database. In 2020, when The Mennonite merged with Mennonite World Review to create Anabaptist World, that arrangement ended.”
Kauffman said that by offering the free form on the Archives website, he hopes that more people will be encouraged to record births, deaths and marriages, so that the statistics the Archives collect reflect the breadth and diversity of the denomination. He said, “Questions about family history are among the most frequent inquiries we receive at the archives. The new form is a way to continue to serve family history researchers but also share important news from congregations within the broader MC USA community.”
Vital records can be submitted to the MC USA Archives website by individuals or by congregations. The records will be stored in the archives’ digital collection, updated in the MennObits database and compiled by archives volunteers into periodic reports, which will be shared on the Archives website and via MC USA’s PeaceMail newsletter (subscribe here).
Mennonite Church USA is the largest Mennonite denomination in the United States with 16 conferences, approximately 530 congregations and 62,000 members. An Anabaptist Christian denomination, MC USA is part of Mennonite World Conference, a global faith family that includes churches in 58 countries. It has offices in Elkhart, Indiana, and Newton, Kansas. mennoniteUSA.org