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Spring 2018 · Vol. 47 No. 1 · pp. 95–108 

The Writing Ministry of Katie Funk Wiebe

Joanna Katherine Wiebe

Funk women didn’t write. “Writing?” Katie once wrote. “No one wrote for a living.” 1 Yet she risked the move into new territory as she learned to love herself the way God had made her, with her own talents, hopes and dreams, despite what church and society cautioned her was out of bounds for a woman. Katie spoke for widows, women in ministry, people who felt like outsiders in the church, and older adults. She wrote with a deep love for the church, and church history.

Katie believed writing was God’s assignment to her. It wasn’t a hobby, it was a ministry.

Katie’s writing inspired and influenced many men and women, and encouraged storytelling in the family, church, and other settings. Deborah Penner, chair of the English department at Tabor College and former assistant editor of the Christian Leader, says of her mentor, “She is the spiritual and intellectual ‘mother’ for Mennonite Brethren women writers. She holds the standard of excellence for those of us who follow in her footsteps.” 2 {96}

CONFLICTING CALLS

Katie Funk was born September 15, 1924, in Laird, Saskatchewan. Growing up in Saskatchewan as part of the Mennonite Brethren (MB) church, Katie heard “powerful voices” calling her to a life of faith. She also heard a call to the world of the imagination, a call to writing, encouragement she never heard from the church. “To reconcile the two sets of voices,” Katie wrote, “one to a life of faith in Christ, the other to creative exploration, seemed impossible. And being a woman did I even dare try on a writer’s shoes? In the Mennonite constituency, they only came in men’s sizes.” 3

For Katie, however, “the dream of writing stayed alive, if vague and out of focus, and gradually, pain by pain, and joy by joy, I allowed it to grow.” 4 English, the language in which Katie began to write her first poems and stories as a girl, was her third language. She grew up speaking Low German (Plautdietsch), then learned High German because her parents—German-Russian immigrants from Ukraine—believed the latter was necessary to become “good Canadian citizens.” Katie remembers,

The agreement was that if we would quit speaking Low German to them and to one another, we would each receive a prize at the beginning of school. We agreed. My older sisters attended German school across the river, staying with friends, for several weeks. In the fall, I received a new purse with which to carry my small coin to Sunday school each week.

From then on languages were used in our home like the ingredients of a tossed salad. We children spoke High German to our parents and they to us. They continued to speak Low German to one another, and if they didn’t want us to understand them, they spoke Russian. 5

Kay at 19

Kay at 19

Eventually, the family learned English.

Kay, as she preferred to be called in high school, was a brilliant student. She received the Governor General’s Medal for Saskatchewan in 1941. Her literature teacher wrote, “It is, I think, unusual for a student to hand in a perfect paper in Literature; so I am looking forward to a Literary career for you—or perhaps you will prefer another ‘career,’ and Literature will be a successful side-line.” 6 After graduating from high school in 1942, {97} she was offered a scholarship to study physics. Katie had no interest in the subject, and her family could not afford the tuition, nor could they envision what a young woman would do with a university education. Instead she enrolled in Saskatoon Technical Institute where, for six months, she resentfully practiced shorthand and learned to type on a bulky Remington.

FUNK FAMILY WORK AND WORDS

The writing of words on paper scarcely happened in the first few centuries of the Funk family’s recorded history, aside from recording who begat whom in the family Bible. Katie’s ancestors, twenty-year-old Frantz Peter Funk and his wife, fourteen-year-old Maria, drove two wagons full of their possessions from Danzig, Poland, to Kronsweide, Ukraine, arriving August 1, 1789. Farmers, they were among the first few hundred Mennonite families to immigrate to Ukraine from the Vistula Delta, establishing the Chortitza, or “Old” colony. More than likely they had brought with them a Dutch Bible and Martyrs Mirror.

Jake Funk's Hymnbook

Jake Funk’s Hymnbook

Several generations later, printed words of inspiration caressed the soul of Katie’s father, Jake Funk. While imprisoned by Red Army soldiers in 1919, when he was twenty-three, he read a smuggled hymnbook for solace in a cold, filthy cellar so crowded with prisoners there was no room to lie down at night. Because it had been concealed under the lining of his boots, the tiny book yellowed with sweat from his feet. If the soldiers had found him with a forbidden religious book in the prohibited German language, he would surely have been shot.

“I needed this hymnbook to keep my sanity, and I would read it when I got a turn at the cellar window,” he said later. 7 As Jake waited for the firing squad, he read the hymn, Lasst die Herzen immer fröhlich, which sustained him during this time: “Let your hearts be ever joyful/filled with thankfulness/for our Father in heaven has called us his children.” 8

Katie’s mother Anna hardly wrote even a scrap of a letter. Yet she read. For example, when Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique in 1963, she read and discussed it with Katie. But her dreams for Katie did not include writing. {98}

Katie was romanced by a young man who encouraged her in her gifts. After this relationship fell apart, Katie poured out her insecurities in her journal:

I’m afraid to be a writer—I’m afraid to put things down on paper, things I might regret later on, as if these things really applied to me. But then they do. These things that I want to write are my thoughts, the things that keep me going, the things that slow me up and make me wish I was anywhere but where I am. I shouldn’t be afraid. I know I shouldn’t. No one will ever see these things I write. No one will ever know they belonged to a girl who once had hopes, dreams, but never saw them realized.

She concluded that day’s journal entry by proposing wistfully, “Perhaps there is somewhere a man who will fit in with this, my purpose . . . to be a writer someday.” 9

Katie Funk and Walter Wiebe working together on the student paper The Harbinger at Mennonite Brethren Bible College, Winnipeg 1945

{99} In 1945, she was baptized in the Mennonite Brethren church in Saskatoon. Soon after, the president of the Mennonite Brethren Bible College in Winnipeg recruited her to study at the new college. The president, J. B. Toews, also wanted her to be his personal secretary. There she met Walter with whom she worked on the school newspaper, The Harbinger. Walter was the editor, Katie the secretary. Sparks flew.

KATIE, WALTER, AND THE PRINTED WORD

The young couple spent the first years of their marriage, as Katie later put it, “sorting through what God wanted of us. One day we knelt beside our kitchen table and committed our lives to a literature ministry. How this would work itself out, we didn’t know.” 10 Their daughter Susan wondered as a child what her father meant when he prayed during the evening family devotions for “the printed word.” Which word was that, exactly? Walter explained to her the impact of ink on paper to communicate the gospel across time and space. He liked to quote to his children this poem by George Gordon Byron:

But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
Falling like dew, upon a thought, produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think;
’Tis strange, the shortest letter which man uses
Instead of speech, may form a lasting link
Of ages; to what straits old Time reduces
Frail man, when paper—even a rag like this,
Survives himself, his tomb, and all that’s his. 11

Almost immediately after Katie and Walter had dedicated themselves to the ministry of the printed word, Walter got a chance to write and edit a newsletter, the Youth Worker, for the Youth Committee of the Canadian Conference of the Mennonite Brethren Church. Katie had a baby. She cooked and sewed, copied the newsletter on a mimeograph machine, and stuffed the newsletter envelopes. When Walter got too busy to write, Katie hauled out her college typewriter. After five years, Katie was writing the whole newsletter. When she gently pointed out to the Youth Committee that she was doing the work, not Walter, they reluctantly allowed Walter to add her name to the masthead to read “Walter and Katie Wiebe, co-editors.” “I was crushed,” she wrote later of their reluctance. 12

Katie’s next opportunity was as official correspondent of the Hepburn Mennonite Brethren Church to the Christian Leader, the denominational publication. “I decided to put our congregation on the map,” she said. 13

Katie thought deeply about what to write next. “The whole problem seems to resolve itself around the matter of having something to write about. If I have nothing to say, there is no use in writing that bit of nothing {100} down on paper.” 14 She considered writing children’s devotions and stories, short stories for adults, and an English translation of the autobiography written by Walter’s father.

During the 1950s and 60s, religious journalism was dominated and controlled by men. Katie accepted every opportunity to write, regardless how small, and whether it even paid. In addition to the Christian Leader, she was published in the Mennonite Reporter, The Canadian Mennonite, Christian Living, and other periodicals. The first article for which she was paid had the byline “Mrs. Katie Wiebe.”

FAMILY ENCOURAGEMENT

As she began to publish, Katie’s parents, husband, and children encouraged her. “Keep on writing and do not let critical strong letters upset you. People on the front have to face it. Sleep over it,” her mother advised her. 15

In 1962, the editor of the Christian Leader asked Walter whether Katie would write a column. She was wounded that the editor had asked Walter instead of coming to her directly, but “I swallowed my pride and accepted his offer.” 16 Wiebe’s column replaced a previous column, “Pots, Pans and Patter for Christian Homemakers.” Originally titled “Women in the Church,” Katie persuaded them to change her column name to “Viewpoint.” After all, she had something to say to both women and men. She wrote the column for thirty years. In her column and in articles, speeches, sermons, and presentations, she addressed issues of faith, aging, healthcare, frugality, racial equity, personhood, ethics, Christian literature, the creative life, and more. Mennonite poet Jean Janzen says Katie was

a major inspiration for me with her Christian Leader columns as I was seeking for direction in my own life. In the sixties and seventies as I was raising children with my beloved husband in Fresno, California, her words sustained and inspired me over and over. I name her as a major voice in my decision to enter the creative writing program at Fresno State University in 1980 where I was taught by poets who honored my voice and shaped my future. 17

Doug Heidebrecht of the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies has said, “Katie’s role as a column writer gave her a public voice few Mennonite women had. She saw her columns as essays testing ideas, which included the implications for the church of the changing status of women in society. To succeed, Katie realized she needed to change her view of women in the church and venture into areas of thought not usually open to women.” As Katie remembered it, “For a while every time I sat down to write, a jury of twelve solemn men in dark suits with large black thumb-indexed Bibles open to 1 Timothy watched me work. {101} It took years to realize the barriers to women’s greater involvement were not divine interdicts but human concoctions, deeply embedded in me.” 18

Heidebrecht also notes that Katie “slowly began to acknowledge that she had the right to speak about the church simply because she was a member. She could no longer squelch the voice that told her that to ‘describe women’s roles only in terms of limitations, rather than opportunities, was wrong.’ ” 19

Katie’s style was always highly readable, engaging, and invitational. She wrote from her personal experiences, the big and the small. Jean Janzen has said, “Katie’s willingness to tell her story of loss and struggle is the very beginning of all good writing—to tell the truth and to tell all of it, the pain and the joy.” 20

Humbly, Katie once said, “I have never seen myself as a particularly gifted writer, mostly as a hard worker.” 21 She did not wait until the mood hit her but simply kept on writing even when feeling “a terrible dryness.”

SINGLE PARENTHOOD AND CAREER

Katie in the 1960s

Katie in the 1960s

In 1962, after a five-year illness with the progressive disease pseudomyxoma peritonei, Walter died. Early widowhood pushed Katie into the workforce to earn a livelihood for herself and four children, the youngest just two years old. She began single-handedly to support her family, as an editorial assistant at the Mennonite Brethren Publishing House where Walter had been a book editor. For four years she copyedited and proofread.

In 1966, she became an English instructor at Tabor College and later also served as director of publicity. Two years later, she graduated with a BA from Tabor, and in 1972 earned an MA from Wichita State University. Tabor promoted her to associate professor in 1981. Throughout this time, she also published many freelance articles and was invited more and more frequently to speak and offer workshops.

At Tabor College, her colleague and friend Clarence Hiebert encouraged women’s ministry when other church leaders were hesitant to move ahead. Katie recalled that Clarence “gave many women students and {102} faculty at Tabor their first opportunity to preach in worship services, serve communion and teach Bible courses.” 22 Still, she struggled to reconcile the “vast reservoir of untapped potential of . . . women” with the church’s inability to think beyond traditional patterns of women’s service. She argued that women’s changing role was “a problem which needs the careful guidance of church leaders instead of a gentle patting into submissiveness back to the kitchen and the sewing circle.” 23

Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique shook Katie thoroughly, and she realized that it had similarly affected thousands of other women. As a biographer once put it, Katie realized that “the opportunity to write and speak openly and publicly about her own struggles and joys as a woman in the church . . . was the greatest gift she could offer.” 24 She herself wrote,

The teachings of the Bible grant me the right to unique personhood. . . . I [regard] myself the way God sees me: a person whose faith is in the atoning work of Christ on the Cross. . . . I have never considered myself a feminist. . . . I am a believer in persons. If I’m a feminist, I must testify that Christianity has influenced my feminism. I am what I am because I have accepted Christ’s words of liberation for all humankind. 25

Katie was a member of the first Women on Campus committee at Tabor College. By 1970, she was actively calling for a Mennonite Brethren study conference on the position of women in the church.

Katie in her office at Tabor College

Katie in her office at Tabor College

{103} Her first widely read book was published by Tyndale House in 1976. The autobiographical narrative, Alone: A Widow’s Search for Joy, told the story of her experiences moving beyond widowhood to personhood. The book was well received and eventually published in editions for Germany, Great Britain, Finland, and South Africa. She wrote stories of other Mennonite women, “women who were often overlooked because they were not part of the official historical accounts.” 26 One example is her biography of Sister Frieda Kauffman, a pioneer in the deaconess movement in the United States and who founded, and was the first director of, the Bethel Deaconess Hospital and Home in Newton, Kansas, a nonordained Christian ministry in which women could provide pastoral care.

THE WOMEN IN MINISTRY TASK FORCE

Some of Katie’s activities included reviewing books for Mennonite Weekly Review and serving on the General Conference Mennonite Brethren Board of Christian Literature. When she was asked to participate in the Women in Ministry Task Force of the MB General Conference Board of Reference and Counsel, it was the first time she had ever been asked to participate in decision-making related to the role of women in the MB church.

The task force was first appointed in May 1986 and first met briefly in October of that year. The main meeting of the task force was March 6–7, 1987, just prior to the MB General Conference in Abbotsford, BC. Katie was one of three women on the task force in addition to several men. Their assignment, Katie said, was “to compile a resolution to present to the upcoming conference. Always men had decided what to do about the women. For the first time in MB history, women had been asked to share in decision-making regarding their role in the church. I wept openly. For about thirty years I had been asking, sometimes gently, sometimes more stridently, that women’s gifts be acknowledged. Now, I and other women present at that meeting could talk about our concerns. It was overwhelming.” 27

She recalled that the first meeting began with each person speaking honestly so that everyone knew where each stood. One person said the church should be moving toward equality between the sexes in every context. Another, a pastor’s wife, was content to support her husband. A seminary professor said, where previously he had supported a mild restriction on gifts, he was now willing to accept full freedom for women, in part persuaded by his daughter’s pain as she tried to move into church ministry. A college professor admitted he had accepted authoritarian male dominance for decades but had recently undergone a theological conversion. Although still troubled by some restrictive passages, he had decided that “If Katie has borne the pain for thirty years, I can bear it for {104} a few.” Another college professor declared, “If it is right for women to serve, it is wrong to hinder them.” 28

The proposal acknowledged “that the evangelical church, world-wide, is in transition in its understanding of the scope of ministries of women in the church and the world.” 29 Biblical support was offered for the proposal, which read in part: “We urge that the Mennonite Brethren churches free and affirm women for ministries in the church, at home and abroad, e.g., decision-making (committees and boards), evangelizing (visitation and discipling), teaching (Bible study and preaching), pastoral counseling (shepherding and soul care). We affirm women as associate pastors but do not, at this time, endorse women as senior pastors or ‘leading elder.’ ” 30 Further study of the Bible on the role and ministry of women in the church was also proposed.

Attendees at the General Conference convention in August 1987 vigorously debated the task force’s proposal. When it was over, heavy editing led to the passage of a resolution that was merely a generic statement on the role of women: “We encourage our churches to free and affirm women for ministries in the church, at home and abroad, in decision-making, evangelizing, teaching, counseling, encouragement, music, youth visitations, etc.” 31

In the midst of these debates, Katie Funk Wiebe was the first woman to preach at a General Conference convention, although her sermon, entitled “Love in the Church,” was labeled a “devotional.” 32

Katie’s father had written to her in 1973:

We are proud of you, Katie. What will the men in the church say? “Women shouldn’t speak. Leave it to men. It isn’t Paul’s teaching according to the MBs.” We are all for you. Keep it up. The MB pants got too small already—too narrow. I joined the MBs in 1918—55 years ago—today the MBs have much wider pants. What was forbidden then is OK now. The change is coming but too slow for me. We are proud of you. It puts many men to shame. 33

EDITOR, WRITER, PROFESSOR

Katie’s curiosity and quest for understanding and insight helped make her a good writer and editor. She read widely on all sides of an issue, watched trends. She was alert to the issues that bothered her and others. She also greatly enjoyed working with words and ideas. She loved thinking up her own ways of saying things, not falling back on religious jargon, which she thought was one of the worst diseases in modern society.

In her lifetime, Katie wrote more than two thousand articles, columns, and book reviews, and wrote or edited more than two dozen books. 34 Katie served as interim editor of the Christian Leader and editor of Rejoice!, {105} the inter-Mennonite devotional guide. In 2011 she began a blog, Second Thoughts. Her book, Bless Me Too, My Father (Herald, 1988) won a Silver Angel award in 1989. Another book, Border Crossing: A Spiritual Journey, received a Silver Angel Honorable Mention (Herald, 1995). Her memoir, The Storekeeper’s Daughter (Herald, 1997), is the story of growing up in Saskatchewan, the daughter of German-Russian immigrants. Books on aging include Bridging the Generations (Herald, 2001) and Prayers of an Omega (Herald, 1994).

In September 1990, after teaching English for twenty-four years, Katie retired from Tabor College as Professor Emerita. When she resigned she was chair of the English department and chair of the Faculty Personnel Committee.

In 1993, the Mennonite Health Association honored her with the Anabaptist Healthcare Award for her writing about mental health, women’s issues, and aging. In 2000 The Mennonite chose her as one of twenty Mennonites with “the most powerful influence on life and belief of the General Conference Mennonite Church and Mennonite Church in the 20th century.” She was specifically cited for “raising the credibility of Mennonite writing” and giving voice to widowhood and women’s concerns. 35 In 2014, she received the Leslie K. Tarr Career Achievement award from the Word Guild of Canada and was described as “an agent of transformation; a life force that has pushed its way through the firmly packed soil of tradition.” 36

Katie on her 90th birthday

Katie on her 90th birthday

Also in 2014, as Katie neared ninety and despite failing eyesight, she worked on four books, publishing A Strong Frailty: Aganeta Janzen Block, Heroine of the Faith in the Former Soviet Union (Center for Mennonite Brethren Studies); this was the story of her mother’s sister Neta, who survived eleven years in a forced labor camp. In 2015 Katie published My Emigrant Father: Jacob J. Funk, 1896–1986 (Kindred). A revised edition of How to Write Your Personal and Family History was released in 2017.

Soon to be published by the Center for Mennonite Brethren Studies is Terror, Faith and Relief: The Famine in Russia, 1924, Katie’s translation of D. M. Hofer’s Die Hungersnot in Russland und unsere Reise um die {106} Welt. Hofer was an American relief administrator in a Mennonite area of Ukraine during World War I.

INNER MOTIVATIONS

What motivated Katie to keep writing? When asked about that, she would often say wryly that it was less agonizing to write than not to write. She sometimes quipped that holding back the writing impulse was like trying to restrain a sneeze. Even while caring for her family, working full time, and working toward an advanced degree, she made the time to think and write. Her children learned to respect her writing office hours.

But more than anything, she believed writing was God’s assignment to her. It wasn’t a hobby, it was a ministry. God wanted her “to put concepts, especially theological concepts, into language people can understand.” 37 Walter and Katie had dedicated their lives to a ministry of Christian literature, and she had honored that vow.

Her approach to this ministry was to use writing as the way she explored her faith, by looking at the questions and mysteries of her own life. She had “a deep basic faith in God and his son Jesus Christ, sometimes quite simple and naïve. Nonnegotiable to me. I believe in the existence of God in a dimension beyond this world, but also in this world. I believe in sin and evil. I believe in salvation and the power of the grace and love of God to change me and the world.” 38

It took courage and conviction to write honestly about how her faith worked out in day-to-day life, her own puzzlements, thoughts, and feelings. She understood that the life of faith was dynamic, and the Christian life is not black and white. There is value in our frustrations, perplexed thoughts, and anguished feelings. She said in her blog that she tried to write like Frederick Buechner: “His idea of good writing is to stick a pen into a vein and start writing. Passionate, life-giving writing is fueled by blood. I have sometimes told would-be writers to think of writing as wearing your heart on your sleeve for all to see what makes it tick.” 39 “You never remain stagnant in your personal spiritual life. As a writer, you are always open to new insights, new perspectives to an idea, an argument, a way of seeing life, while hanging onto what is basic to faith.” 40

Katie believed that everyone has a story to tell. She took great joy in teaching people how to write their own story in an original way so that it would be clear and interesting. “Stories shape lives more than other kinds of words. Stories are a way of reaching to each other. When I tell a story, I am saying to my readers, ‘I trust you with this story. It is my gift to you.’ ” 41

Katie Funk Wiebe died on October 23, 2016, in Wichita, Kansas, at the age of ninety-two. She left behind a legacy of faith, storytelling, and {107} an invitation to live by choice, not by default. Katie was a writer, speaker, preacher, pioneer, prophet, provocateur, feminist, teacher, mentor, and historian. Her stories helped shape thousands of lives. As Jean Janzen observed, “Her patient, skillful telling lives because of the fire in her soul—a passion to seek the truth and to record that journey.” 42

NOTES

  1. Katie Funk Wiebe, acceptance speech for the Leslie K. Tarr Award for Career Achievement from The Word Guild of Canada, 2014.
  2. Wesley J. Prieb, “Katie, A Writer in Pilgrimage,” Direction 24 (Fall 1995): 86.
  3. Katie Funk Wiebe, address to the annual meeting of the Mennonite Reporter, Edmonton, February 19, 1988.
  4. Katie Funk Wiebe, talk at the Barclay Press writers workshop, September 12 (year unknown).
  5. Katie Wiebe, “The Style of Low German Folklore,” Journal of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia 5 (Fall 1982): 45.
  6. Katie Funk Wiebe, scrapbook, 1943.
  7. Jack Funk, “The Little Hymnbook’s Tale of Terror,” Christian Living, 1987.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Katie Funk Wiebe, journal entry, 1943.
  10. Doug Heidebrecht, “Katie’s Pilgrimage,” in The Voice of a Writer: Honoring the Life of Katie Funk Wiebe, ed. Doug Heidebrecht and Valerie G. Rempel (Winnipeg, MB: Kindred, 2010), 5.
  11. George Gordon Byron, Don Juan (1819–1824), Canto III, Stanza 88.
  12. Katie Funk Wiebe, “The Barriers Are Not Real,” in Voice of a Writer, 22.
  13. Katie Funk Wiebe, oral history with Joanna K. Wiebe, handwritten notes, 2007.
  14. Katie Funk Wiebe, journal entry, 1956.
  15. Anna Janzen Funk, handwritten letter to Katie Funk Wiebe, undated.
  16. Katie Funk Wiebe, You Never Gave Me a Name: One Mennonite Woman’s Story (Telford, PA: Dreamseeker, 2009), 96.
  17. Jean Janzen, tribute to Katie Funk Wiebe given at the dedication of the Katie Funk Wiebe Writing Center at Tabor College, Hillsboro, Kansas, 21 October 2017. [Janzen’s tribute is published in this issue of Direction.—Ed.]
  18. Doug Heidebrecht, “Katie Funk Wiebe Tells Her Story: A Personal and Communal Narrative History,” Journal of Mennonite Studies 28 (2010): 122. He was quoting from Wiebe, You Never Gave Me a Name, 166.
  19. Ibid. The Wiebe quotation is from You Never Gave Me a Name, 202.
  20. Janzen, dedication of Katie Funk Wiebe Writing Center.
  21. Katie Funk Wiebe, Barclay Press writers workshop.
  22. Katie Funk Wiebe, “Tribute to a Colleague: Clarence R. Hiebert,” Direction 23 (Fall 1994): 120. {108}
  23. Joanna Wiebe, “What Would Mother Do?” in Voice of a Writer, 54.
  24. Heidebrecht, “Katie Funk Wiebe Tells Her Story,” 122.
  25. Katie Funk Wiebe, Alone: A Widow’s Search for Joy (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1976), 62.
  26. Attribution uncertain.
  27. Katie Funk Wiebe, email to Doug Heidebrecht, 8 December 2008.
  28. Ibid.
  29. Herb Brandt, “Reference and Counsel,” Mennonite Brethren Herald, 26 June 26, 5. The following phrase was missing from the official Yearbook version of the resolution: “but do not, at this time, endorse women as senior pastors.” See “Resolution on Women in Ministry,” Yearbook: General Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches of North America, 57th Session (Winnipeg: Christian, 1987), 46–47. Cf. “Proposed Resolution on Women in Ministry,” Minutes, General Conference Board of Faith and Life, 26–28 March 1987.
  30. Ibid.
  31. “Resolution on Women in Ministry,” 72.
  32. See Yearbook, 57th Session, 70.
  33. Jacob Funk, handwritten letter to Katie Funk Wiebe, 1973.
  34. A bibliography of Katie’s writings and oral presentations is available in Voice of a Writer, 255–352.
  35. The Mennonite, 22 February 2000, 3, 6.
  36. Belinda Burston, award speech for the Leslie K. Tarr Award for Career Achievement from The Word Guild of Canada, 2014.
  37. Wiebe, Barclay Press writers workshop.
  38. Ibid.
  39. Katie Funk Wiebe, “Writing That Transfuses Blood,” blog entry, Second Thoughts Blog, 25 July 2011. http://kfwiebe.blogspot.com/2011/07/writing-that-transfuses-blood.html.
  40. Wiebe, Barclay Press writers workshop.
  41. Katie Funk Wiebe, “Why Go to a Reunion?” talk delivered at the 2013 Peter P. Wiebe family reunion, British Columbia.
  42. Quoted by Prieb, “Katie, A Writer in Pilgrimage,” 87.
Katie Funk Wiebe earned her bachelor’s degree from Tabor College (Hillsboro, Kansas) and her master’s in English from Wichita State University. After working at the Mennonite Brethren Publishing House, she taught English at Tabor from 1966 until her retirement in 1990. In addition to many articles, she wrote or edited over two dozen books. She died in Wichita, Kansas, on October 23, 2016. Joanna Katherine Wiebe is Katie’s first daughter, named after Jo in Louisa May Alcott’s book, Little Women, a favorite of Katie’s when she was growing up. A user-experience designer and writer, Joanna lives on Vashon Island, Washington.

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