A Pietist Pastor and the Russian Mennonites: The Legacy of Eduard Wuest
In the Spring 2007 issue of Direction, I began a review of the Pietist influences in Russia that helped transform Mennonites in that country from the 1830s to the early twentieth century. The two most significant influences were the village of Gnadenfeld in the Molotschna colony (with its unique Pietist history) and the role played by the pastor in the Lutheran Brüdergemeinde colony, Eduard Wuest. This article examines Wuest’s story.
For Mennonites, Wuest opened windows and doors that could never again be shut. It is quite likely that most of them had never heard such a preacher before.
Amid the changing Russian Mennonite attitudes toward education in the nineteenth century came a powerful impetus to renewal of spiritual life. It came through Eduard Hugo Otto Wuest, a 27-year-old minister from a breakaway Lutheran group in Württemberg in southern Germany, who arrived in the separatist Lutheran Brüdergemeinde village of Neuhoffnung in 1845. The reputation of this once errant but very gifted theology student must have preceded him for when an installation service was held for him soon after his arrival, the church was filled to capacity. The sermon he preached that day left no doubt that he came with a message of revival and conversion, an “either-or” message, as he put it. Mennonites, too, were in the congregation. 1
The cluster of four villages to which Wuest came were known as the Brüdergemeinde colony and they were located just south of the Molotschna colony near the Sea of Azow. The nearest villages of the two colonies were less than 20 kilometers apart. The settlers of the Brüdergemeinde villages had come there in the years 1816-19, strongly motivated by a desire to find a place where they could begin to see God’s promised kingdom established, escape the corrupting influences of western Europe, live under a devout Christian tsar—the country, not incidentally, that had just defeated Napoleon—and live a life of more intimate fellowship with Christ. 2
By the time Wuest came to fill a vacant pulpit, the colony had experienced considerable prosperity, but its spiritual life had gone into some decline. From the moment of his arrival, Wuest preached a powerful message of conversion to Christ through his death on the cross, deliverance from sin, and the freedom and joy of the assurance of salvation. He told his hearers in no uncertain terms that he would confront them with a choice—as he put it, create a clash in their midst—so they might come to salvation. 3 He had an enormous impact. In a few years he was known all over southern Russia, from Odessa to the Caucasus, from the Crimea to Kharkov and even to St. Petersburg. 4 His presence was like a blazing star over the entire region. Revivals broke out several times and led to many conversions. Everywhere people flocked to hear him. He provided the colonists with a new language of faith, steeped in the revivalist, Pietist experience—liberating many to talk easily about love for Jesus and love for the sinner. 5
His preaching demanded attention. Unlike many of the Lutheran pastors in the German colonies or the ministers of the Mennonite colonies, Wuest spoke with great eloquence. He had a pleasing voice and his speech had the rhythm and cadences of a great orator. He used the German language very well. He felt free to use humor. Quite often he interrupted a sermon to have the congregation sing a song. He might single out someone in the congregation and call to them by name. His sermons contained practical examples and images and illustrations, something that wasn’t usually done by preachers of that day. 6 His favorite theme was the cross of Christ and he seemed to have an “inexhaustible resource of descriptions of the suffering of Christ for the sinner.” 7
A tall, heavy man, Wuest cut an imposing figure, and while he had a reputation for not catering to his hearers, he mingled easily with rich and poor, young and old. Even before coming to Russia, he had been accused of demeaning the office of pastor by mingling so comfortably with all sorts of people. One of his Lutheran pastor colleagues, Pastor Dobbert of Prischib (also near the Molotschna colony), described Wuest as “a man of extraordinary talents . . . who had allowed himself to be captivated by the love of Jesus. His words inflamed the spirit because he directed his listeners away from the emptiness and despair of their own hearts to the fullness of the divine mercy which had been revealed in the Saviour on Golgotha.” 8
WUEST’S EARLY YEARS
The message with which Wuest came to Russia was rooted in an important transformation that had happened in his own life. It occurred after a youth of feckless, quite dissolute living, interrupted by theological studies and then entrance into ministry with a great deal of unresolved past accompanying him. In fact, it was only through the mentoring and example of a devout older Lutheran pastor that Wuest was helped to pass his theological exams. At that time he says he prayed for the first time in half a dozen years. After passing the exam he was assigned his first church in 1841 at the age of 23. Before taking on his new role, his pastor friend took the young Wuest into his home again for several weeks. Now he was praying and taking his assignment quite seriously. But he wasn’t converted. 9
Nonetheless, he made a considerable impression, because he preached with great energy and passion. Yet he couldn’t preach from conviction or his own experience, he said later. He recognized he was living a lie and in a short time he was back into old practices and his reputation began to falter. He had to leave the pastorate and at that point Wuest says he got to see his hypocrisy and spiritual bankruptcy. He knew that he needed a “thorough conversion” and that it was “now or never.” 10 He returned to his home community of Murrhardt near Stuttgart in 1843 with the sense that he was lost and condemned. At this point he looked up Pietist brethren living in his village and began attending their services. Their witness affected him profoundly. Early in 1844 he was given a new pastorate in Riedenau, a village near his home. Again he began preaching strongly, now with a clearer emphasis than ever on repentance and conversion even though he still lacked assurance of his own salvation.
His preaching, however, became increasingly serious under the influence of the Pietists. It drew a growing attendance, brought revival to the community but also generated growing controversy. People came from surrounding communities to hear him. He was accused of ignoring consistory rules about private meetings, was actively opposed by fellow Lutheran pastors, and peremptorily dismissed from his post. No appeals could succeed in changing the decision. In September of 1844 he was forced to leave Riedenau on pain of fines if he stayed and was in fact fined for accepting gifts from friends who wanted to give him support. It was a time of great turmoil for him. However, he began an itinerant evangelistic ministry with Methodists, preaching in a number of communities near Stuttgart. Everywhere his preaching had great impact. The Methodists invited him to go to America with them. Much as had been the case with John Wesley decades earlier and despite his fruitful ministry, a lingering sense of uncertainty about his own salvation and direction remained with Wuest. He was missing something. As Kroeker writes, “he still lacked the assurance that as a child of God he could rejoice in his Savior.” 11
That assurance finally came as 1844 drew to a close. Wuest was at a New Year’s Eve service in the nearby community of Winnenden with a Methodist missionary (a butcher by trade) named Mueller, whose ministry had already impressed Wuest. Also present was Wilhelm Nast, a Methodist missionary from Cincinnati. As the last hours of the year passed, the group held a “love feast, sang, prayed, reflected on a passage of Scripture, and chiefly gave testimony to the grace of God,” Wuest related later. Mueller and Nast told how God had “wonderfully led” in their lives and Wuest was also asked to talk about his experience. He did so by describing the events of the previous months and asking them to decide whether he “belonged to their circle.” He says that Nast embraced and kissed him and exclaimed, “God be praised!” Wuest said how attractive he had found the “childlike freedom of simple peasant women to relate—to God’s praise—how they had been marvelously revived and converted” in contrast to the talk about schools attended which he might have talked about in his previous circles.
As the evening ended Wuest was asked to speak a prayer, and he says he prayed that at this moment God “should draw just one soul to the heart of Jesus and give it the joy of the assurance that it was a child of God.” It was a prayer for himself. He says that when he stood up, “I knew that I was a child of God. I was so happy. I ran around the room and I wanted to tell the whole world about my joy . . . All I could do was keep on clapping my hands and say over and over, ‘Praise God.’ ” 12 From that moment on Wuest possessed assurance of his salvation. It empowered his ministry as nothing else could. Months later, in the summer of 1845, he was in Russia. As Kroeker writes, “In this testimony of his we recognize the fiery enthusiasm that later characterized his ministry in Russia.” 13
WUEST COMES TO RUSSIA
In his biography of Wuest, Abram Kroeker says that the message and appearance of this Pietist-revivalist Lutheran pastor “was like a shattering, refreshing and fructifying rainstorm . . . amid the spiritual drought and wasteland of the surrounding colonies.” 14 Even though he was accused of preaching too much about grace and not enough about sanctification after he arrived in Neuhoffnung, it was said that all four villages of the Brüdergemeinde colony went for years without a single instance of anti-social behavior requiring the attention of authorities. 15 For Mennonites, Wuest opened windows and doors that could never again be shut. It is quite likely that most of them had never heard such a preacher before.
Not long after Wuest’s coming, the Lutheran church in Neuhoffnung began the practice of annual missionfests. These were large events, held over a four-day weekend—apparently in September—to which people came in great numbers from colonies all around. Hundreds of wagons with attenders might drive up to a hundred hours to attend—one has to remember that roads were barely adequate for such travel in southern Russia in the mid-nineteenth century. Many of these were Mennonites. The village of Neuhoffnung organized itself to provide shelter for people and animals for the event. Wuest himself was usually the key speaker alongside other Lutheran and Mennonite preachers. 16
Numerous observers say that much of the religious life in the Mennonite colonies was at a low ebb during this time. Heinrich Huebert, the first ordained elder among the Mennonite Brethren, wrote later, “Even though considerable progress had been made in regard to farming, planting and the building of houses [among Mennonites], there was hardly a trace of a fellowship of faith according to the Gospel, as we now know it . . .” 17 The Diaries of David Epp (1837-1843), translated and edited by John B. Toews, reveal a minister of the Old Colony who was often deeply troubled by the spiritual state of his spiritual community. He would write, “Spiritually we have reached a new low, especially in our ecclesiastical leadership” (March 28, 1843), and elsewhere, “As long as there is no inner renewal, there will be no peace in our society” (Feb. 2, 1839). 18 John F. Harms describes it as such “a dead and dark time.” 19 Heinrich Goerz in The Molotschna Settlement says that the more conservative character of the Flemish Mennonite churches (who formed the majority of the Old Colony and Molotschna settlers) “did not prevent the Flemish from secularizing more rapidly than the theologically more liberal Frisians, nor did it hinder the emergence of a rigid orthodoxy which was resistant to all reform and learning.” 20 It was P. M. Friesen’s judgment that even though “Elijah’s 7000” always existed among the Mennonites in Russia, the pattern of church life over a period of many years, and because of a range of influences, “had left [them] with an ecclesiastical, doctrinally correct, moral formalism . . . The good house of Menno had become practically desolate and empty and was about to collapse.” 21
WUEST’S CONTRIBUTION TO THE MENNONITES
Because of what Wuest brought to this collapsing edifice, Friesen called him—at least for the Mennonite Brethren—a “second Menno.” He brought “vital air and warmth, food and drink . . . into the impoverished house. Revived and strengthened, we found the courage to renew the house according to the old plan, on the old foundation.” 22
Foremost, of course, Wuest gave many a fresh Christian experience that revitalized for them their faith. He breathed new life into old bones. As Jacob Reimer put it when he described the meetings that began in Gnadenfeld where Wuest spoke, “We wanted to know each other in our depravity and Christ in his boundless love. Oh [how] our hearts were filled with Jesus’ love and we were fused together in Him.” 23 It was the old language renewed and newly appropriated.
It is clear that Wuest helped his listeners to envision new ways of stimulating one another in the faith. Certainly, the missionfests were such occasions. These gatherings exposed many colonists—Mennonite, Catholic, and Lutheran—not only to one another but also to new understandings. Wuest was a key speaker at these gatherings, but so were others. It is interesting that Johann Schmidt, who joined the Templar movement and in retrospect will not have embraced all that Wuest stood for, still commended him as an “unforgettable man” and “ideal teacher” who understood how to communicate the spiritual life that drove him to those “entrusted to his care . . . Besides his preaching, he tried to open and extend the understanding through a trusting relationship with old and young.” Schmidt praised Wuest’s ability to overcome the “timidity” of rural young people by helping them to engage in open and trusting conversation with the pastors and those more educated. 24
WUEST AND CHURCH LIFE
Through Wuest’s influence, meetings of the kind he encouraged sprang up elsewhere. That’s why a group in Gnadenfeld began monthly meetings “of the brethren” on Saturday afternoons, and until 1858 Wuest himself participated in these. Even Gnadenfeld’s elder, August Lenzmann, participated until criticism about excesses among Wuest’s erstwhile followers prompted him to withdraw. These were meetings of fellowship and teaching—Wuest himself doing much of the teaching—at which, as Jakob Reimer wrote, “our hearts were filled with Jesus’ love and we were fused together in Him.” 25 They were forerunners to what later became the Mennonite “brethren.” Abram Kroeker says similar “larger or smaller fellowships with Wuest’s imprint” formed in a number of places. 26 Additionally, Gnadenfeld had its own well-attended missionfests, since they reflected interests deep in its own history.
Kroeker describes the sort of church life Wuest cultivated. In the home he encouraged a “lively family worship.” Fathers were encouraged to read a chapter from the Bible at each meal and speak a “prayer from the heart.” In many Mennonite homes of that day there wasn’t even a prayer before meals, not to mention Bible reading—perhaps a moment of silent prayer. Sunday mornings his congregation met for worship services. In the afternoons, they conducted a Sunday school (“children’s instruction”) in which adults took part, a practice the early Mennonite Brethren also adopted. An evening service, often including a free discussion of the Scriptures, ended the Lord’s Day. On the first Monday of each month the church held a missions evening at which there might be a collection for missions. Each Tuesday morning there was a Psalm reading and meditation. Every Friday, there was instruction of the children in which adults again participated. If Wuest wasn’t at home, the meetings still continued with singing, Bible reading, discussion, and prayer. Both men and women prayed freely in prayer times. Visits in the homes often included Bible reading and prayer. 27
Wuest only married after arriving in Neuhoffnung—incidentally, with Friedrich Lange of Gnadenfeld 28 officiating—but his wife Pauline Lisching (also from Germany) is credited with giving a strong impetus to four-part singing in the churches and the formation of a mixed choir of young men and women, neither of which had been known in Mennonite circles before, says Kroeker. 29 Elements of most of these practices spread throughout the Mennonite colonies in the decades after Wuest.
The “spirit and tone” brought to gatherings that reflected Wuest were these, says Kroeker: “revival and conversion, joy at the experience of grace, fervent love for Christ, cultivation of intimate fellowship, mutual admonition and correction.” These stood in stark contrast to a “stiff, lifeless orthodoxy,” the absence of any talk about “conversion or rebirth,” and the belief predominant among Mennonites that “you couldn’t know that you were a child of God.” 30
Wuest also brought an appreciation for other Christians. Because Wuest provided the occasion for Christians of a number of streams to come together, he helped them to learn to appreciate one another and respect one another as believers. As a result he helped break down barriers. He didn’t have time for questions of dogma, says Kroeker. The fact that Wuest might practice infant baptism in his church and yet preach conversion so forcefully and work so easily with Mennonites appears not to have been a problem for him. 31 Here, too, the Gnadenfeld church offered a hospitable environment for this spirit. It is interesting that when Quaker missionary, John Yeardley, visited the Mennonite colonies in 1853, it was to Wuest’s Neuhoffnung that he first went and then to Gnadenfeld where he found Nikolai Schmidt of the Steinbach estate who was willing to take him around and open doors for him to speak. 32 Bringing believers together into “fellowship circles” was more important than a focus on theological consistency. 33
WUEST AND EDUCATION, TEMPERANCE, PREACHING
Wuest also elevated the level of education, brought an appreciation for improved education, and helped bring about an elevation of the entire way of life within his own colony. Here too, he reinforced attitudes that were beginning to take hold in the Mennonite colonies through people with Pietist sympathies or convictions. He was very concerned about the upbringing of young people, for example. A lot of discussion took place in Neuhoffnung around this question, and as a result teachers were brought in who had specialized training, a break with earlier practice. This led to improved schools. Through improved education and the emphasis generally on “praying and giving, on serving one another and the stranger,” the ethos of the colony was raised and it prospered visibly. “The entire life, outlook, ethos, customs and practices of the colonies changed through the Wuestian revival movement.” 34 Because of their “thoroughness, sobriety and diligence” they stood out among all the colonies. 35
Indeed, “sobriety” was not a slight concern for Wuest. He encouraged the temperance movement and, as a result, groups formed who made this a focus of their activity. Gnadenfeld formed such a temperance society. 36 It is significant that when the Mennonite Brethren seceded from the larger church a few years later, the level of drinking and drunkenness in the villages was a specific concern. 37
Wuest also provided a model for preachers who welcomed not only his message, but also his style of preaching. 38 No one reflected that better than Bernhard Harder, whom P. M. Friesen described as the greatest preacher to emerge among the Russian Mennonites and who was called “the Mennonite Wuest” and had taken Wuest as his model and ideal. 39 At a particularly critical time in his spiritual journey, Wuest spoke a word to Harder that became life-transforming for him, even though the teenage Harder was already converted. 40 It is significant that Harder always remained in the large Mennonite church: he would not and could not deny his baptism there. Many of the people converted through his ministry, however, went over to the Mennonite Brethren. Interestingly, in his outward appearance as well as in his inner spirit and the content of his message, Harder greatly resembled Wuest.
After the death of Eduard Wuest in 1859, the awakening stimulated by him had its most enduring effect among the Mennonites, wrote Abram Kroeker nearly a half century later. 41 That is why, says P. M. Friesen, Mennonite Brethren must call him their “second reformer . . . Revived and strengthened we found the courage to renew the house according to the old plan, on the old foundation,” he wrote. 42 The most obvious outcome was the emergence of the Mennonite Brethren, though, as was already noted, a preacher such as Bernhard Harder never joined the Mennonite Brethren, even if he spent years in a public ministry that carried all the hallmarks of Wuest. Nevertheless, the Brethren “were a powerful protest against the rigid, formal character of Mennonite church life of Russia before the 1860s.” 43 The leaven they created permeated the life of the colonies for the good in a range of ways: religiously, educationally, even materially. As P. M. Friesen put it, “I . . . consider [our Mennonite Brethren] to be the salvation of [Russian] Mennonitism purely in terms of its Christian significance and its ultimate purpose.” In view of the many criticisms Friesen leveled at Mennonite Brethren, it is clear that he meant this especially in terms of the impetus that the Mennonite Brethren gave all Russian Mennonites “toward self-evaluation and renewed spiritual activity.” 44
Yet controversies enveloped Wuest during the final months of his life. His vigorous proclamation of the grace of God and the joy salvation brings was taken by some within both Lutheran and Mennonite circles to justify practices in their worship that went to greater and greater extremes—at least for the settings in which they were exercised. Sharp confrontations occurred even with Wuest himself, with several groups denouncing him for not embracing their ideas and practices and he arguing with their views. 45 The singing, clapping, dancing and shouting, and inappropriate behavior of men and women with one another caused great tension, both within the colonies and with Wuest. The progression toward excess is illustrated by the terms used to describe them: they were first called the “lively ones” and then, finally, “jumpers.” 46 Those who blamed Wuest for what was happening began to distance themselves from him. One has to see these events as an almost inevitable outcome of what happens when people make a break from church beliefs and practices in which they’ve long found shelter. Where they will land is difficult to predict. Among Mennonites a significant number of those who broke with old church practices kept moving beyond Wuest and embraced ideas about freedom in Christ and behaviors that Wuest never supported. Such practices could also be found among emerging Russian sects in southern Russia. 47 Nor were they unknown in America. In some senses the Templar group that emerged in the early 1860s was another movement that went beyond Wuest, though its members had earlier been greatly affected and encouraged by him. In the end they embraced notions about the place of Jerusalem in God’s kingdom purposes and about Jesus that Wuest would have disowned. 48
Because of accusations raised against Wuest, his permission to preach in colonies beyond his own Brüdergemeinde colony was withdrawn. He had to endure extremely harsh condemnation, and even people who once were close friends withdrew from him. These experiences likely contributed to the illness that ultimately claimed his life. An attempt was even made to expel him from Russia. 49 Nonetheless, at his death in 1859 at the relatively young age of 41, large numbers turned out to mourn and honor this towering spiritual shepherd.
In the end, those who took paths that ended in spiritual disillusionment and failure were relatively few, even if the events that surrounded them were bitter. Some ended up burning books and excommunicating one another, even—among the Mennonite Brethren—temporarily excommunicating leaders like Heinrich Huebert, Abram Unger and Johann Claassen. By the mid-1860s, the Mennonite Brethren—who carried the greatest burden of these tendencies—had wrestled the extremists down. Following what they called “the June reforms of 1865,” they began mending the fences the movement had destroyed.
Years later, P. M. Friesen wrote about the “jumpers” and the joy in the salvation in Christ that the movement was meant to express. On the one hand, some of the strong negative reaction to these people was understandable simply in terms of the cultural clash their behavior caused with sober Mennonite churches. 50 On the other hand, he wrote, all of the great early leaders of the Brethren movement—Johann Claassen, Jakob Reimer, Heinrich Huebert, Christian Schmidt, and Peter Siemens—“had a little of the Huepfer [jumpers] in them” and what he had received from them, together with the same from his mother and oldest sister, had remained “determinative” for all of his life, he wrote, though it had been “modified and augmented” over the years. 51 He was writing about the great inner joy that the knowledge of salvation brings. It was that faith experience—brought to the Mennonites of Russia nowhere as effectively as by the Pietist Lutheran Eduard Wuest of Neuhoffnung and by the church in Gnadenfeld—that deserves the greatest credit for the changes that worked their way through the colonies in the decades leading to the First World War.
It is worth repeating what was stated at the conclusion of the first of these two articles on Pietist influences in Russia. Once detached from the forms of the old church, some Mennonites became a target for those who wanted to win them to a range of movements. Besides the Templars, some joined the Seventh Day Adventists, some embraced Swedenborgianism, some followed Claas Epp into Turkistan in the belief that there they would find a safe place when Jesus returned, some abandoned all faith. Nonetheless, the majority by far of those who found a revitalized Christian faith through the influence of Pietism remained entirely orthodox in historic Christian terms. Besides the many who stayed in the “large” Mennonite Church in Russia who had embraced such a faith, between a fifth and a quarter of the entire Mennonite community in Russia had joined the Mennonite Brethren by 1914. One can believe that a sovereign God knew what was ahead for the Mennonites who remained in Russia in the Soviet era. It would require a living faith and a strong sense of the presence of Christ to survive the dark and terrible times that lay ahead.
- Abram Kroeker, Pfarrer Eduard Wuest (Spat bei Simferopol, Russia: Selbst-Verlag, ca. 1903), 42ff. Kroeker’s primary sources were the book by Jakob Prinz (Die Kolonien der Brüdergemeinde), much of it about Wuest, as well as Wuest’s own account of this early period in his life. Prinz was the legal counsel to the city of Piatigorsk and son of the Brüdergemeinde community. This writer had access to both sources.
- Jakob Prinz, Die Kolonien der Brüdergemeinde (Moscow, 1898), 16ff. See especially 20-21. Prinz provides a vivid and highly readable account of the creation of the colony and the coming and activity of its most famous pastor.
- Kroeker, 51.
- Peter M. Friesen, The Mennonite Brotherhood in Russia (1789-1910) (Fresno, CA: Board of Christian Literature, General Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, 1978), 209. Use will be made of both the German and English editions of Friesen’s work. If the German edition is used (Die Alt-Evangelische Mennonitische Brüderschaft in Russland (1789-1910) [Halbstadt, Taurien: Verlagsgesellschaft “Raduga,” 1911]), it will be indicated by (Ger); if from the English, by (Eng).
- Kroeker, 62, quoting Prinz. Prinz had written, “Just as a singer strikes a new previously unheard tune, so the weathered people of the steppes, who brought with them the old strict virtues and puritan faith of the immigrant years, soaked up the new gospel of fervent love and blessed fellowship and were drawn in and softened by the new way.”
- Ibid., 59.
- Ibid., 55.
- Friesen (Eng), 209.
- Kroeker, 10-14.
- Ibid., 17.
- Ibid., 18-31. The account of Wuest’s struggle with church authorities and the efforts by supporters to have their decision reversed is told at length by Kroeker from Wuest’s own account. Wuest came to feel later that his personal efforts to justify himself became an error on his part. The account describes how he came to repent it. He also says that despite a growing ministry, he still didn’t have assurance of his own salvation.
- Ibid., 32-33.
- Ibid., 32
- Ibid., 61.
- Ibid., 70. Prinz and Kroeker describe the kind of influence Wuest exercised with several illustrations. For example, he was offered an annual salary of 600 rubles when he first came, and throughout the rest of his ministry, he never asked for more even though his ministry grew to be much larger than originally expected. When a villager became ill and couldn’t bring in his hay crop, Wuest told his parishioners to come to his place the next morning with their scythes and together they would cut it and bring it in. When the people of a neighboring Russian village came to buy more milk than usual because of illness in the village and the price went up as a result, Wuest admonished his church strongly and as a consequence many of his people took milk over themselves and gave it without asking for any money.
- Jacob Bekker, Origin of the Mennonite Brethren Church (Hillsboro, KS: Mennonite Brethren Historical Society of the Midwest, 1973), 25-26; Prinz, 87.
- Friesen (Eng), 207.
- David Epp, The Diaries of David Epp, tr. and ed. John B. Toews (Vancouver: Regent College Publishing, 2000), 23.
- John F. Harms, Die Geschichte der Mennoniten Brüdergemeinde (Hillsboro, KS: Mennonite Brethren Publishing House, 1924), 4.
- Heinrich Goerz, The Molotschna Settlement (Winnipeg: Published jointly by CMBC Publications, Manitoba Mennonite Historical Society, 1993), 61.
- Friesen (Eng), 212.
- Ibid., 206-7.
- Kroeker, 102.
- Friesen (Eng), 206-7.
- Kroeker, 84.
- Ibid., 66.
- Friesen (Ger), 171 n. 1. It was the Gnadenfeld elder who performed the wedding in 1847. Lange, though his roots were in the Brenkenhofswalde community, had strong affinity with the Württemberg Pietists.
- Kroeker, 64.
- Ibid., 78, 84.
- Ibid., 75. It was a reflection, too, of Wuest’s concentration on what he believed was his core message.
- John Yeardley, Memoir and Diary of John Yeardley, Minister of the Gospel (EBook The Gutenberg Project, 2003), 233. Yeardley was a Quaker evangelist and missionary who kept a diary of his lifelong ministry. Near the end of his life he made such a journey to Russia and specifically to the German-speaking colonies, since he spoke the language. He writes that he found it difficult to witness in the Mennonite colonies, though he met with openness in Gnadenfeld and Neuhoffnung.
- Kroeker, 75.
- Ibid., 71.
- Ibid., 109.
- Ibid., 64.
- Friesen (Eng), 230-1.
- See Victor Doerksen, “Pietism, Revivalism, and the Early Mennonite Brethren,” in The Dilemma of Anabaptist Piety: Strengthening or Straining the Bonds of Community, ed. Stephen L. Longenecker (Bridgewater, VA: Forum for Religious Studies, Bridgewater College), 72; Kroeker, 54-55, 62.
- Friesen (Ger), 743-744; Kroeker, 113. Kroeker writes that through his more than two decades of ministry in the colonies, Harder became known as the creator of a “new style of preaching among Mennonites” in the style of Eduard Wuest.
- Friesen (Ger), 744. The teenage Harder had been struggling and drove to Gnadenfeld to try to meet Wuest. He encountered the pastor just as he was about to go into the church in Gnadenfeld to preach. Wuest could see the young man was troubled and made a statement that apparently was just what Harder needed. He said, “Young man, how long are you going to waver?” and walked away to his assignment. Harder followed and listened to Wuest preach. It became the turning point in his life.
- Kroeker, 111.
- Friesen (Eng), 211-12.
- Kroeker, 112.
- Friesen (Ger), 419.
- Kroeker, 90.
- Ibid., 91.
- Sergei Zhuk, Russia’s Lost Reformation (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004), 15-16. Zhuk has written a very interesting study of the emergence of sectarian groups in southern Russia during the nineteenth century. He notes the groups who found their inspiration through their interaction with the German colonists, especially with the Mennonites. There were “jumpers” among the Ukrainian sectarians too.
- Friesen (Eng), 224; Kroeker, 97, 110.
- Kroeker, 91ff.
- Friesen (Eng), 441ff. Friesen’s comments here are especially helpful, since he clearly recognizes that some things done by the “jum-pers” would not have been offensive in a cultural setting quite different from that of the Mennonite colonies. Neither would they be strange in today’s churches, where many of the same expressions of worship may be found. Nonetheless, Friesen says that the “jumpers” had blind spots about how their behavior was viewed by their conservative Mennonite neighbors. For himself, he describes his experience of joy thus: “We are no less ‘happy in the Lord.’ We express our joy in word, in song, in the sparkling or sorrowful eye, or simply allow our joy to glow heavenward in worshipful thoughts, heartfelt praise, and in the vibration of our entire inner being, like incense rising to the throne of our eternal Father and the Lamb, [who are] worthy of praise through the ‘agency of the Holy Spirit.’ ”
- Ibid., 1022 n. 331.