NAB HC History

Background of the Heritage Commission

The Development

The NAB Heritage Commission was officially established by the NAB Conference at the Triennial Session held in Niagara Falls, New York in 1991.

Before that time, various people worked faithfully to preserve key documents and artifacts related to the ministry of the German Baptists, later referred to as the North American Baptists. Albert Ramaker, dean of the German Department of the Rochester Theological Seminary in Rochester, New York,  was one of those deeply involved in the collection of such materials.

In more recent years, the key person facilitating the collection of materials has been Dr. George A. Dunger who served as the librarian of the North American Baptist Seminary from 1950-1960. Dr. Dunger’s other positions at the Seminary included that of Professor of Missions and Registrar. In 1982, Dr. Dunger was officially appointed by the NAB Conference at its Triennial Session in Niagara Falls to serve as the Conference archivist. Dr. Dunger laid important groundwork for the organization and operation of the archives.

As librarian of North American Baptist Seminary from 1960-1978, Joyce Ringering worked with Dr. Dunger to make an important contribution to the  development of the NAB archives.  Dr. Reinhold Kerstan, Director of Publications for the NAB Conference Office from 1971-1980, was also involved in the collection of NAB archival materials.  Miss Bernice Westerman worked with Dr. Dunger as his associate from 1992-1999, when he retired.

Rev. Orville Meth, retired NAB pastor and chaplain of the Baptist Home in Bismarck, North Dakota, became the first chairman of the Board of Governors in 1993.  By this time the NAB archives had  become officially organized as the North American Baptist Heritage Commission. The Constitution, adopted in 1996, provides for a Board of Governors which meets on an annual basis.

In 1999, Dr. Ernie Zimbelman assumed the important responsibility as the Chair of the Board of Governors.   He was followed by Dr. Janelle Beck in 2004 and Mr. Ben Engbrecht in 2011.

The archival operation of the Heritage Commission is located on the lower level of Sioux Falls  Seminary.


The Vision

During this past decade the holdings of the Heritage Commission have continued to grow.