Editor’s Note in Verhandlungen


in Verhandlungen, page 20

Some explanation is needed concerning terminology used in this translation. 

First, the editors have used current terminology to describe the meetings of the individual conferences. Today, the conference itself is a session. We would speak today of the 106th Session of Annual Conference. The individual meetings of the Annual Conference are called meetings today. We speak then of the first meeting of the 106th Session of the Annual Conference. Those who recorded the minutes called these individual meetings sessions. 

Second, and more complex, is the matter of denominational terminology. The problem may be illustrated by our use of the word conference. The word conference refers to a meeting of participants who gather to confer. Conference is and was applied to the annual or semi- annual meetings in which pastors and lay men from the individual churches gathered to confer. At a time later, when groups of churches began to merge, the word conference came to refer to the group of churches. One might speak of the Canadian Conference or the Pennsylvania Conference. Today, we use the word conference when referring to our churches as a whole. The word conference as we use it is almost synonymous with the word denomination. 

In 1858, the Evangelical Mennonites referred to themselves as a Gemeinschaft, a society or an association. They would avoid the use of the word church and the word denomination. Later, they would adopt the name, Mennonite Brethren in Christ. At that point, they were “Brethren” and continued to show an aversion to the words church or denomination. In the English version of the Doctrine Of Faith, published in 1867, the word society was chosen to render the word Gemeinschaft. 

In our translation, we have rather consistently rendered the word, Gemeinschaft, conference. This is consistent with our current terminology and will be more understandable to Bible Fellowship Church readers. 

The word, Conferenz, begins to appear more often making the use of the translation conference acceptable. 

For those who wish to examine the German text. a typewritten manuscript is available. If you wish to purchase a copy of this text, write to The Historical Committee of the Bible Fellowship Church, 600 South Main Street, Coopersburg, PA, 18036. 

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