I just came from a student led chapel where they were talking about the importance of foundations. This led me to think about UMEI’s theme verse, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11). I thought I should begin my blogging journey at the very beginning….why build a small, private school on the sixth?
UMEI’s history is rich with the need to preserve one’s faith and beliefs. In 1974 the UMEI Board of Directors commissioned Jacob P. Driedger to write the book United Mennonite Educational Institute: Its Origin and Growth. This is what Driedger had to say about “why UMEI?”: “…far-sighted and concerned men in the Mennonite congregations in Ontario saw the need for a school that would provide religious instruction and training, a school that would help its students to view all life from a Christian perspective and preserve and uphold the principles of the Mennonite faith and its rich heritage. Combined with this, the full academic courses as prescribed by the Ontario Department of Education (now the Ministry of Education) should also be taught in order to make the school attractive to our young people. This was the type of school these men had in mind and for which they tried to stir up interest”. This conversation was taking place while grade 9 and 10 students were gathered in the Leamington United Mennonite Church basement in 1945. This group of individuals saw the need for a more permanent school, and so, in the fall of 1947 the school opened for the first time as a four year high school….United Mennonite Educational Institute was no longer a hope and a dream but a reality!
The school on the sixth was born out of the church; a school which would not only teach academics, but lay the foundation, the one of Jesus Christ. 70 years later, for the same reasons, the doors remain open at UMEI Christian High School. We are a people who share faith in Jesus Christ; a people who want to continue laying that very vital foundation for our young people still today.
Written by: Sonya Bedal