Breckbill, Willis L. Papers
Span Dates: 1977-2010
Volume: 1.5 linear feet
Personal papers documenting debates in the Mennonite Church regarding the position of homosexuals in congregations and ministry. Includes personal and professional correspondence and records pertaining to the Welcome Committee, Connecting Families, and other Anabaptist and Christian organizations supporting the inclusion of gays and lesbians in Christian communities.
Willis (Bill) L. Breckbill, was born to the David and Anna (Leaman) Breckbill on April 28, 1926 in Willow Street, Pennsylvania. He had three siblings, Raymond, Richard, and Alice (Charles). On August 14, 1954, he married Ina Ruth Krabill of Louisville, Ohio. Together they had four children: David (Anita Stoltzfus), Bruce (Jill Detweiler), Don (Carola Horsch), and Anne Breckbill.
Bill graduated from Goshen College (1954) and Goshen Biblical Seminary (1955) and spent much of his career serving the Mennonite Church. In addition to pastoring congregations in Biglerville, Pennsylvania (Bethel), Canton, Ohio (First Mennonite), Cambridge, Ontario (Preston), and Goshen, (Waterford), he also undertook interim pastoral assignments in Portadown, Northern Ireland, Archbold, Ohio (Central), and Elkhart, (Southside Fellowship and Hively Avenue). He served the broader church as a member of the General Board of the Mennonite Church and then as Moderator (1977-1979). Between pastorates, he was Conference Minister of both the Ohio and Eastern Mennonite Conference and the Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference.
Bill was a man who cherished and built relationships, loved people, and advocated for the marginalized in society and the church. He enjoyed expanding his horizons and took many opportunities to educate himself on theological and social issues. In the 1990s, he was an early member of the Welcome Committee, one of the first organizations in the Mennonite community to advocate for the inclusion of LGBTQ people in congregations. He died on August 17, 2011, at the age of 85.
An online finding aid is available.
This collection is at the Mennonite Historical Society
3145 Benham Ave.
Elkhart, Indiana, USA 46517
Activist (religious institutions) | Mennonite Church USA | Ally