Mennonite Trust started by renting space from Nickel Insurance in Waldheim SK. Although Mennonite Trust grew steadily over the years it never forgot its small-town roots. MTL began branching out into the surrounding communities, and grew into its own building in 1981. In 1995 a new branch was officially opened in Swift Current SK, and in 1997 Mennonite Trust’s second branch opened in Saskatoon SK.
Historically, the “Waisenamt”, known today as “Mennonite Trust Ltd.” has always been an important arm of the Church, as a mutual aid to its members. The Mennonites who emigrated from Prussia to southern Russia developed the concept of the Waisenamt as their trust organization in dealing with inheritances and the caring for of orphans and widows. The first Waisenamt in Russia was officially formed on Sunday, August 31, 1792, at Chortitza, Russia (H.J. Gerbrandt in “Adventures in Faith”). The guiding principles of operation were based on Isaiah 1:17, “Learn to do good, seek justice, correct oppression, defend the fatherless, plead for the widow” (RSV) and were spelled out under seventeen regulations.
For various reasons and at different times, groups of Mennonites left their Russian homeland, settling in various locations in the United States and Canada. In all likelihood, some form of “Waisenamt” service was organized in many of these new Mennonite settlements. Certainly this is true of the settlements in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
In order to receive legal status a proposal drafted by the Church leaders was submitted to the Saskatchewan provincial government for consideration. This was passed by the Legislative Assembly on February 23, 1917, thus giving birth to a new entity under the name of “Mennonite Union Waisenamt”. The prime concern in its earliest years was to assist in the drawing up of Wills and subsequently the management of estates. This remains the major thrust of the Company to this day.
However, society is constantly changing, bringing with it changing needs. The Waisenamt has attempted to face the challenges of change by tailoring its services to meet these new needs.
In 1968 the name of the Company was changed to “Mennonite Trust Ltd.” In 1975, by an amendment to its Charter, the Company was granted the right to administer the estates of all Saskatchewan residents, regardless of religious affiliation.
The Church’s direct surveillance of the Company’s operation has disappeared; however, the three owning Conferences continue to appoint members of their own body to act as Directors and Advisors. These Directors and Advisors in turn report to their Conference bodies, usually at the respective annual provincial Conference sessions.
Thus Mennonite Trust Ltd. continues to be an arm of the Church.
Mennonite Trust carries on the early traditions in the following areas:
• Estate planning and Will drafting from a Christian perspective.
• Christian compassion at the time of death.
• Mennonite Trust invests its money in Canada. These funds are made available to support Mennonite organizations and Christian ministries.
• Provides work for Christian employees and they in turn contribute and participate in ministry related activities in Saskatchewan and the world.
• Provides advance funds for families who experience a cash flow problem at the time of death.
• Provides investment options which insure that funds are directed toward ministry related funding. Some examples are loans to churches, church workers and compassion related needs.