Mennonite World Conference mourns the passing of Cornelius J. (C.J.) Dyck, Mennonite historian and church leader, in Normal, Illinois, USA, on 10 January 2014. Dyck served as Executive Secretary of MWC from 1961-1973.
Born in Russia on 20 August 1921, Dyck grew up in Kansas (USA). He served for several years with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). After earning a PhD in church history, he became professor of historical theology at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, in Elkhart, Indiana, USA, a position he held for 30 years until retirement in 1989. During his career he produced numerous books and articles on Mennonite history and theology, including the popular Introduction to Mennonite History (1967).
Dyck’s service as MWC Executive Secretary came at an important time in the organization’s history. He played a crucial role in articulating the necessity of MWC’s global vision, claiming in 1972 that “[MWC] must be a part of the mission Mennonites are being called to in the world – not just white, Western Mennonites, [but] all Mennonites . . . Unless MWC can become an integral part of what all Mennonites want to be and do in the world, it cannot have a real future.” Dyck’s vision continues to inspire the mission of MWC today.
According to César García, MWC General Secretary, "C.J Dyck led our global community during a crucial period of transition in which MWC shifted from its Euro-American orientation to becoming worldwide in character."