Katie Funk Wiebe: The Voice of a Writer

There’s a broad view of green fields and blue sky from my window at the Country Haven Inn, here in Hillsboro, Kansas. I’m here to attend the gala Festschrift event being hosted for my mother Katie Funk Wiebe by the Mennonite Brethren Historical Commission.  Last night, as the sun was setting over the farm fields, at a dinner at the Milk and Honey Bed and Breakfast just northeast of Hillsboro, co-editors Doug Heidebrecht and Valerie Rempel presented mom with the book, The Voice of a Writer: Honoring the Life of Katie Funk Wiebe, which describes her life, writing and impact on the world.  I have a copy too, which I started reading at breakfast this morning.

From the back cover, by Linda Huebert Hecht:  “Katie Funk Wiebe has shown great leadership, from the time she was elected president of the young adult group in her Saskatchewan Mennonite Brethren Church to the present day. She wrote about her own experience, addressing both women and men and became a strong and prophetic voice in the Mennonite community and beyond. Although no one mentored her, Katie became a trailblazer and a model to others. The variety of approaches in this book enrich Katie’s story and make it an appealing and excellent book to read.”

In coming days, I’ll be posting on this blog the chapter I contributed to the book, Chapter 3: What would mother do?

Book launch for Katie Funk Wiebe April 24

Katie Funk Wiebe 2007

A reception and program honoring the life and work of Tabor College Emeritus Professor of English Katie Funk Wiebe will be held on Saturday, April 24, at Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kansas.

That’s my mom, for those of you who don’t know!

The highlight of the evening will be the unveiling of a new “Festschrift” book, The Voice of a Writer: Honoring the Life of Katie Funk Wiebe, published by the Mennonite Brethren Historical Commission.

I wrote a chapter for the book, describing life with Katie Funk Wiebe as our mother. It’s a page-turner!

Mom, who is 85, began teaching at Tabor in 1966 and remained 24 years as professor of English and Journalism. Author of numerous books about the role of women in the church, she was named one of the 20 most influential Mennonites of the 20th century.

Aside from that, I love her just for being herself — questing, curious, perseverant, loyal, invitational, brave, true, a great story-teller, and always learning and growing. 

More information:


Katie’s Festschrift

Katie Funk Wiebe, my mom, taken in Edmonton, July, 2009

There’s a special “Festschrift” event being held April 24 at Tabor College, in Hillsboro, Kansas, the town where I grew up and went to high school and college.

A “Festschrift” is a collection of writings published in honor of a scholar. This celebration in April is a two-hour by-invitation reception in honor of my mother, Katie Funk Wiebe and launching a new book, which is a collection of essays about her. The book is being published by The Mennonite Brethren Historical Commission (sponsored by the U.S. and Canadian MB conferences).  The vision of this book is to provide an opportunity to reflect on the significance of mom’s contribution to the thought and life of both the Mennonite Brethren and the larger Mennonite/Anabaptist community.

The book is in three sections.  First, her life is examined in order to understand the development of her thinking within her particular context.

I wrote a chapter for this section, titled “What Would Mother Do?”.

The second section looks at mom’s multiple roles as a writer, theologian, historian, teacher, and speaker.

The last section is about mom’s interest in the issues facing women, widows, and older adults.

The event is sort like a Nobel prize within the Mennonite universe.  Mom never expected her work would garner her such acclaim.  I think she is the first woman in the Mennonite Brethren church to gain such honor, possibly the first woman in the Mennonite church in general.

I am proud of her — but not surprised!