The mission of the North American Baptist Heritage Commission is to tell the story of God at work in and through the NAB. Staff and volunteers at the Heritage Commission Archives, located on the campus of Sioux Falls Seminary, collect, preserve, and organize records and documents related to the people and ministries of the NAB. Artifacts and photos from NAB churches, Sioux Falls Seminary, and the various NAB mission fields are also displayed. Contact us with any questions of a historical nature related to the NAB.
Heritage Commission staff are available and willing to assist churches and individuals in searching files for historical information. Resources include:
- Directories and conference reports dating back to the 1850s
- Many church anniversary and dedication books and programs
- A complete set of Der Sendbote and The Baptist Herald
- Many boxes of print records containing hundreds of files and thousands of letters and other documents related to historical NAB ministries
- Many German Bibles and other books related to German Baptist history, beliefs, and practices (see Collections and Books for Sale)
- An extensive collection of books pertaining to NAB missions in Cameroon
Churches are encouraged to send important historical documents – including anniversary books and dedication programs – to the Heritage Commission. As is the case in most archives, space for storing documents and displaying artifacts is limited, so please contact us before sending written materials or artifacts.
What We Do
The Heritage Commission is committed to serving congregations and individual researchers. Staff and volunteers:
- Collect and organize materials related to the NAB.
- Assist congregations who request information about NAB churches, former pastors, or members – often for anniversary and/or genealogical purposes.
- Encourage translation of historical documents from German to English.
- Digitize documents such as The Baptist Herald to provide easier access to constituents.
- Provide access to archival holdings for researchers who visit the archives.
- Preserve and manage original records, pictures, and artifacts of NAB churches and organizations.
- Display museum items for public viewing.
- Publish the Heritage Horizons newsletter.
2100 S Summit Ave
Sioux Falls, SD 57105
(605) 274-2702 or (605) 274-2731
History of the NAB Heritage Commission
The Heritage Commission was officially established by the North American Baptist Conference in 1991 for the purpose of developing a center to preserve, organize, and display the NAB’s history.
Through the years, even before the Heritage Commission was officially established, various individuals worked faithfully to preserve key documents and artifacts related to the ministry of the German Baptists who are now called North American Baptists:
- Albert Ramaker (1860–1946) served as dean of the German Department of the Rochester Theological Seminary in Rochester, New York. He was the historian and was deeply involved in the collection of historical materials
- Dr. George A. Dunger (1908–2002) was officially appointed as the conference archivist at the 1982 NAB Triennial Conference in Niagara Falls, New York. Under his leadership, the Heritage Commission was given a firm foundation and positive direction for the organization and operation of the archives. Dr. Dunger had previously served as an NAB missionary in Cameroon and as a professor of Missions and a librarian at North American Baptist Seminary (now Sioux Falls Seminary).
- Others who have given leadership to the Heritage Commission include:
- Joyce Ringering (1932–1978), who worked alongside Dr. Dunger
- Reinhold Kerstan, John Siewert, Bee Westerman
- Heritage Commission Director George W. Lang (1928–2015)
- Heritage Commission Director Jackie Howell (1938–2016)
- Darlene Frueh, interim director 2016–2018
- Randy Tschetter, director as of April 2018, with Darlene Frueh serving as administrative assistant
In 1993, Rev. Orville Meth became the first chairperson of the Heritage Commission Board of Governors, which met annually to give direction to the staff. Other board chairs include:
- Ernie Zimbelman
- Janelle Beck
- Ben Engbrecht
- Marv Dewey
- Tim Heerts
In 2018, the Heritage Commission became a ministry partner of the NAB. The Board of Governors will now function as an advisory board to the Heritage Commission staff.