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Fall 2001 · Vol. 30 No. 2 · pp. 139–52 

The Mennonite Brethren in Russia during the 1890s

John B. Toews

In an earlier Direction article dealing with the early Mennonite Brethren, we argued that the notion of personal conversion, often characterized by a penitential agony and a search for salvation assurance, was a core belief in the renewal movement. 1 The earliest records suggest that the mode of that experience was varied, yet its celebration and remembrance was often at the center of Brethren worship and edification. This experiential element found its expression in a house church setting with its lay participation in personal testimonies, Bible studies and the singing of hymns. Such a small group dynamic meant informal organization, simple worship liturgies, little distance between leaders and followers, and a sense of common belonging.

Poverty, the lack of religious leadership, or common interest in the gospel brought people together for worship, singing, special conferences, or mission projects.

Since personal conversion was so important to the early Brethren, it was natural that it commanded a great deal of attention in their theological development. This new inner journey, they felt, stood in stark contrast to the views of salvation espoused by the established (Mennonite) church. A new vocabulary describing the nature of their experience had to be developed. The intimacy of the house church setting, where conversion experiences could be recounted and shared, aided in finding the communicative words essential to defining the new dimension in their lives.

In addition, songs reflecting the joy of salvation were available in Frohe Botschaft (Glad Tidings), a hymnal compiled by the nineteenth-century Methodist, Ernst Gebhardt. Similar hymns were found in the {140} German Baptist publication, Glaubensstimme (Voice of Faith), already used in Brethren worship as early as 1861. There is no way of ascertaining whether early Brethren sermons were preoccupied with celebrating the new birth. Two surviving sermon collections from the 1890s, those of elder Herman Neufeld and elder David Duerksen, reflect the priorities of the mature movement. They suggest a concern with discipleship rather than a preoccupation with the act of spiritual rebirth. 2


There was another issue confronting the dissidents. When they separated from the older spiritual community, they were obligated to construct an alternative to the Mennonite church they had rejected. Much of their criticism of conventional Mennonitism related to lifestyle issues. Consequently Brethren concern with public and private morality was defined and articulated over and against the perceived decadence of Russian Mennonite society.

Concerned with the ethical demands of the gospel, the early Brethren were severe and uncompromising in their condemnation of what they considered to be the besetting sins of the community. These were readily identifiable in the context of village life: the excessive use of alcohol and tobacco, dancing, and disorderly conduct. During the decades leading to the 1890s, the demands of Christian discipleship continued to be narrowly defined. From time to time the established Mennonite community censored what it considered to be Brethren legalism by using the depreciatory term die Frommen (the pious ones). Within the community itself, lifestyle issues remained dominant concerns. Like their forbears, they struggled with what it meant to be the holy and separated church.

By the 1890s the balance between discipleship and conversion had been adequately addressed. The house church by its very nature provided a setting in which faith and life were constantly linked. Though the individual member frequently recounted “my experience in Christ,” she or he also lived in the pragmatic world of the everyday. The new life in Christ was not a private journey but a public walk within the community. Living the gospel relationally was an important corrective element in early and later Brethren piety. It was not only a question of one’s experience but also what one did. Living openly and accountably in community invariably surrounded the emotional and ecstatic with a sober realism. Here was a practical piety tied to the rhythms of daily life. {141}


This did not mean that the celebration of salvation, so characteristic of early Brethren spirituality, was lost by the 1890s. While the renewal vitality of the 1860s became institutionalized and formalized, it retained many elements of the personal. At the dawn of the twentieth century, elder Herman Neufeld described the prayer week services held in the Ignatyevo colony:

We held the prayer week in the following manner. We brothers and sisters and many others gathered every evening. After one or two songs were sung, we opened with Scripture reading and prayer. Then a number who desired to do so prayed alternately. Several brothers and sisters related their conversion. More prayers and testimonies followed. Songs or [single] verses of songs were sung in between. The Lord manifested himself and blessed the prayers and testimonies so that tears were shed and many were [inwardly] moved. It seemed that souls wished to repent and be converted and we had a blessed time. 3

The account reflects ordinary parishioners in an intimate setting participating in prayers, personal testimonies, Bible reading, and hymn singing. The house church liturgy from former decades was alive and well. It still offered nurture for the converted and spiritual counsel for the seeker. For the believer it meant ongoing discipleship within the community; for the new convert it meant joining the community and finding a place of safety and belonging.

There are relatively few official records like Herman Neufeld’s memoirs which document the growth and development of the Brethren in Russia during the mid-1880s and 1890s. Church minutes, conference proceedings, or personal recollections are virtually nonexistent. P. M. Friesen’s massive 1910 compilation does not provide significant information on the inner story during this period. In a lengthy chapter covering the 1890s, he focuses on major churches and their affiliates, the various church leaders, some of the contentious issues, and, on occasion, bits of information relating to the history of individual congregations. Unfortunately, the account provides little sense of the spirituality which characterized both private and congregational life. 4

The Brethren periodical, Zions-Bote, founded in 1885, served as an important link between Brethren congregations in both Russia and North America. Printed in the U.S.A., it welcomed a broad range of personal {142} material including reflections on conferences or other public events, conversion accounts, and congregational reports, as well as narratives detailing the activities of itinerant ministers. These firsthand accounts, which often assumed that the reader fully understood the context in which they were written, currently provide the main source of information for the inner life and dynamic of the Mennonite Brethren church in Russia during the 1890s. If these firsthand accounts can be trusted, and there is no reason to doubt their authenticity, it should be possible to reconstruct a fairly accurate portrait of Brethren piety.


Zions-Bote accounts relating to the itinerant ministry constitute one of our best sources for the story of the 1890s. They are both numerous and detailed, informing us that at least twenty-two itinerant ministers were active at one time or another between 1890 and 1900. When the Brethren established the itinerant ministry as early as 1861, they developed an organizational structure capable of preserving their church practices, yet able to adapt to new circumstances. Why was this the case? Two dimensions provide a possible answer.

First, the itinerant ministry was associated with the house church from the very beginning. It was the setting in which most adherents derived their spiritual nurture. By the 1890s such gatherings are variously described as evening services (Abendversammlungen), Bible studies (Bibelstunden), or devotional studies (Erbauungstunden). Such designations might mean a Bible study held in a home with several families in attendance. The meeting might include preaching by an itinerant minister, though such visits often meant a more formal service in the local school. Such gatherings were considered inherently worthwhile. The various reports never place a value judgment upon the number of people attending a meeting. It did not matter whether six or forty were present. This meeting style was not dependent upon a formal church building and was eminently portable when Brethren adherents moved to new frontiers within the Russian Empire. The itinerant ministry always followed the migrants.

Secondly, the itinerant ministry was conference controlled. Affirmed and reappointed at the annual conferences, these ministers became authoritative voices who spoke in the name of the group as a whole. Church organization, liturgical practices, theology, ordinations, and even controversial questions—all such issues could be dealt with by an arbitration panel of visiting ministers. Carefully planned schedules ensured that the itinerants regularly crisscrossed the vast Russian Empire and made contact with almost all Brethren members at least once or twice a {143} year. Traditional norms of faith and practice were continuously affirmed by such visits. Listeners must have developed a sense of belonging to a larger whole while simultaneously being confirmed in their practice of private and public piety.

Perhaps the reports themselves best illustrate the dynamic of the itinerant ministry. Concerning his visit to the Zagradovka settlement, Jacob Jantz simply reported, “We visited all the villages in ten days, held services in the schools and the homes of our members, and made home visitations.” 5 A Jacob Fast of Margenau informed the Zions-Bote that late in 1889 two ministers made twenty-nine visitations in five days and that six people were converted. 6 In 1890, Wilhelm Loewen announced that he had “visited all the brothers and sisters in the Crimea,” which meant preaching nineteen sermons and making seventy home visits in a three week period. 7


The Zions-Bote material also provides a very specific insight into the ministerial activities of David Duerksen, who was ordained as the first Mennonite Brethren elder in the Crimea in 1899. On May 28, 1890, he arrived at the Mennonite colony of Samara. Enroute he had stopped at Memrik where he held three days of services. Five days in Samara meant one or two house services per day in different villages, with at least three of them being held in the Lutheran settlements of the region. On June 3, he presided at a baptismal service. 8 In September the itinerant ministry took Duerksen to the Memrik, Ignatyevo, and Kuban settlements. In his report he observed that between September 7 and October 1, he preached sixteen times, made fifty-four home visitations, and held “five devotional meetings.” 9

During September and October of 1893 he visited several Mennonite churches in Prussia, German Baptists in Berlin, and some small Mennonite Brethren congregations in Poland. 10 Almost a year later his Missionsreise (missions journey) took him to Ufa, Neu-Samara, and Samara. During this period (1894) Duerksen estimated that, in forty-one days of travel, he covered 4,908 verst by train and 500 verst by wagon. Eighty home visitations and fifty-seven school or home services were conducted during the visit. 11 Fifteen to twenty additional ministers, possibly less active than Duerksen, nevertheless provide some measure of the energy devoted to the itinerant ministry.

Zions-Bote articles also imply that at various times the visiting ministers were expected to be baptizers and communion celebrants. Here too the presence of personnel duly commended by the conference meant {144} conformity in the actual practice of the ordinances as well as theological orthodoxy in their interpretation. One other liturgical practice, foot washing, was strongly affirmed by late nineteenth-century Mennonite Brethren in Russia and frequently mentioned in the reports of the various itinerants.

During the 1890s the itinerant ministry was also associated with special gatherings known as a Missionsschule (mission school) or a Bibelkursus (Bible course). These teaching seminars, begun as early as 1875 and regularly held at the end of the century, featured special courses lasting several days, weeks, and, at times, months. They were designed to help local ministers and leaders to better fulfill their teaching ministries but were also open to the rank and file of the local congregation. The significance of such courses is illustrated in the life of the Brethren elder Hermann Neufeld who began attending such courses as early as 1888. These sessions constituted the only formal training for ministry he ever received. 12 A significant person in the story of the early Brethren, Jakob Reimer, emerged as one of the leading teachers in these gatherings.


Yet the reports of the 1890s also mention the presence of Johann W. Kargel, a Baptist pastor from St. Petersburg. In January 1889, Kargel came to Friedensfeld and conducted a month-long Bible course attended by sixteen people. 13 A year later he joined Jakob Reimer in Rueckenau, Molotschna, and provided instruction to some thirteen participants. 14 Kargel is again mentioned as being present in Brethren circles in 1894 when he conducted a course in Andreasfeld. 15 Another Baptist who appears to have been at home in some Brethren circles in the 1890s was the founder of a Baptist church in Marienthal, Samara, F. Hammer. His presence is noted in the reports of 1891, 1894, 1895, 1897, and 1899. 16 Similarly Dr. F. W. Baedecker, well-known for his prison ministry in early twentieth-century Russia and beloved by Mennonites in the Ukraine, is mentioned in Zions-Bote reports as early as 1895. 17

The presence of such foreigners among the Brethren either in the Missionsschule or the itinerant ministry needs further explanation. When the early Brethren rejected the liturgies and traditions of the established church, they created a vacuum which had to be filled. From the very onset, Baptist conversion theology, immersion baptism, church polity, and interest in evangelism proved attractive to the young church. The Baptists provided a paradigm for the dissidents into which they could fit much of their new life experience. 18 Two Baptists were already appointed as Brethren itinerant ministers as early as 1872. The Baptist {145} missionary, August Liebig, played a role in the organization of the first Menno-nite Brethren General Conference.

When government pressures forced the dissidents to produce a confession of faith in 1873, they did so by somewhat amending the faith statement first drawn up by the German Baptists in 1849. Items specific to the Brethren related to the oath, foot washing, and nonresistance. In the early 1880s, Kargel, together with the Brethren minister and evangelist, Johann Wieler, aided in the birth of the Russian Baptist movement in southern Ukraine. 19 Little wonder that Baptist preachers were regularly welcomed in Brethren congregations in the 1890s.

The liaison generated some awkward tensions near the turn of the century. Baptist believers were allowed to participate in Brethren communion services thanks to their immersion baptism, but believing Mennonites baptized by sprinkling were not. Baptists were accepted in Brethren congregations without rebaptism while members of the Mennonite church were rebaptized by immersion. Baptists could preach in Brethren assemblies, whereas Mennonite ministers were frequently barred. Little wonder that early in the twentieth century, Russian officials at times confused the Mennonite Brethren with the Baptists.


In 1894 a member of the Mennonite Brethren congregation in Margenau reflected upon the events which had shaped the church in the previous two decades. When he moved to Margenau around 1872, only thirty out of five hundred people attended the church located on the west side of the village. Most of the population either slept in on Sunday morning or drove to nearby market towns. Some of the young married couples even belonged to drinking clubs in Margenau. Spiritual renewal began in 1880 when two itinerant ministers came to preach in the village. The presence of Brethren itinerant ministers at Bible studies and prayer meetings during 1884 resulted in more conversions. In this and the following year a number of individuals left the Mennonite church and were baptized “with the river (immersion) baptism of the Rueckenau Mennonite Brethren.” By 1894 the congregation numbered seventy-three baptized members even though twenty-three of its members had migrated elsewhere. The author then makes the significant observation that a number of those impacted by the renewal stayed in the Mennonite church, which by 1894 was well attended. 20

Is it possible to create a larger context for the Margenau report, especially on the questions of revival, church size, and inter-Mennonite relations? {146}

Congregational and itinerant ministry reports confirm that the mid-1880s and the 1890s marked a period of renewal and expansion for the Mennonite Brethren in Russia. Unfortunately, the information concerning these revivals is occasional and not systematic. Correspondents list figures they are aware of or events they participated in, but it is not always clear whether the information pertains to the individual village or to the larger settlement. At times the reports mention specific conversions resulting from special services or, as is frequently the case, note the number of people baptized.

In 1889, for example, David Schellenberg reported one hundred and five conversions in the Molotschna and twenty-five in the Crimean and Memrik settlements. 21 A year later the itinerant minister Jacob Jantz reported forty-two baptisms in the Crimea, including three ministers from the Mennonite church. 22 Another account from 1890 mentions thirty-two baptisms, probably all from the village of Spat. 23 A Rueckenau, Molotschna, revival early in 1890 generated twenty conversions. A correspondent from the Samara settlement noted that in 1890 some “one hundred people believed and were accepted into the church.” 24 Recounting his arrival in Alexanderkrone, Samara, in 1891, another writer noted that only four people were present when he attended his first prayer meeting. Gradually fourteen families gathered for fellowship. Then in 1893 revival added fifty-one persons to the church through baptism. 25 The Zagradovka settlement, which had two hundred Brethren members in 1889, added forty-five more through baptism from 1890 to 1893 and experienced another nineteen conversions in 1894. Not long after, forty-three people were baptized. 26

In some regions the revivals of the 1890s moved congregational sizes beyond the perimeters of the house church. Between 1892 and 1901, for example, the Kotliarevka church in Memrik grew from 213 to 350. 27 Similarly the Kamenka congregation in Orenburg, numbering forty-eight in 1895, had expanded to 176 by 1902. 28 In some of the Molotschna villages, the house church model with its evangelism and discipleship paradigm continued to dominate. In 1891, Tiegerweide had some twenty members while Sparrau had thirty-two. The membership of the Alexanderkrone church stood at fifty-one in 1894; Tiege listed thirty-nine in 1895. 29 As larger congregations began to erect formal structures, they studiously avoided the term Kirche (church) and instead preferred to designate them as a Gebetshaus (House of Prayer), Gemeindehaus (House of the Congregation), or Versammlunghaus (Place of Gathering). It seemed the house church roots could not be forgotten. {147}


The converts of the 1890s joined congregations which were stabilized by well-established church polity and liturgical practices. The strong tradition of music and song which had evolved by this time deserves brief comment. While hymnals like Glaubenstimme and Frohe Botschaft provided the early Brethren with songs celebrating conversion, there were several forces at work which moved the dissidents toward a mature hymnody. As early as 1837, Heinrich Franz Sr., a Prussian school teacher, selected some hymns from the Mennonite Gesangbuch and used numbers (Ziffern) to represent the musical scale. Initially circulating in hand-written copies, it enabled school children to learn four-part singing. As young adults in Mennonite congregations they eventually passed their skills on to their parents. All Mennonites, whether Brethren or Mennonite, eventually benefited from the dignity of the chorale melodies contained in Franz’s Choralbuch, first published in 1860.

The evolution of the choir was a natural outgrowth of this new musicology. 30 Church choirs were already known in Brethren circles as early as 1875. Meanwhile in Germany a Friedrich Diedrich organized a Christian Choral Union (Christliche Gesangverein) in 1875 which expanded to countries like France, Sweden, England, and Russia. By 1885 it was known as the Christliche Saengerbund (Christian Choral Association) and boasted a membership of 500 choirs, mostly in Baptist and Methodist circles. The organization defined itself as a Christian choral society using music for Christian inspiration and evangelism. Its Russian affiliate was organized by a Friedrich Schweiger around the German Baptist church in Zyrardov, near Warsaw, Poland.

The Russian Choral Association held its first public festival in Zyrardov in 1886. Then, rather unexpectedly, the Brethren sponsored a choral festival in Rueckenau, Molotschna, on May 30, 1893. Seven choirs ministered to an appreciative audience of two thousand. A year later ten Brethren choirs and one Mennonite choir presented over fifty songs to the two thousand five hundred guests in Rueckenau. 31 Meanwhile an Isaak Born, who joined the Brethren in 1875, began to publish a collection of choir songs in cipher notation in 1889. A succession of editors followed. 32 When the last volume was published in 1915, Russian Mennonites had nine hundred and thirty-five choral workers at their disposal. In the decades to come, the choir would remain a central feature of Brethren worship, both for those who emigrated and for those who remained behind.

The choir was obviously an important means of drawing the energies and talents of young people into the service of the church. Yet, as the {148} Zions-Bote reports clearly indicate, the appeal to youth was supplemented by the introduction of Sunday schools and the organization of young peoples groups. 33 It was a cohesive setting with the church as its central focus. Reflecting upon his entry into the Sparrau Mennonite Brethren Church in 1897, Benjamin B. Janz, of later emigration fame, wrote,

I was accepted into the Mennonite Brethren Church in 1897. In those years I visited many a church. I received a distinct impression of its character: of brotherly fellowship; fear of God; a healthy appetite of the Word; of a sincere, quickening preaching; of work with the faltering one and of the treatment of the unrepentant sinner in the church. Growth in the church came much more from the outside than via the children of the church members. Whether old or young, the church member generally had a burden for the unconverted of the area and for his relatives. They usually believed a person lost without conversion. . . . . . . The young people accepted the direction, order, customs, and practices of the church without criticism. This was the way it should be, and they followed obediently without much fuss at weddings, without retreats and camp meetings. With no special youth conferences they were nevertheless modest, devout, and loyal. 34


Revival and renewal in the 1890s did not always mean that the quarrels of the past were forgiven and forgotten. In the rather confined world of traditional Mennonite society, the memories of past wrongs and perceived injustices lingered. A democratic, individualistic society inevitably generated disagreement and conflict. Historically, Prussian/Russian Mennonites, though committed to the peace ideal, proved to be a contentious people. Frisians and Flemish insisted upon their separate pathways, congregations deposed elders, and farmers fought over available land.

Most of these quarrels were eventually forgotten, but the split of 1860 was not. Old memories endured—of accusations and counter-accusations, of harsh actions taken, of families and friends torn apart. Each remembered the sins of the other. The reports of the 1890s inadvertently point to another irritant: Brethren converts came mostly from the Mennonite church. Then, as already indicated, the ongoing flirtation with the Baptists was hardly conducive to goodwill and reconciliation. Yet all were still Mennonites living in the same village, eating the same food, {149} and farming in a similar fashion.

The ties that bound them together were probably stronger than issues which kept them apart. Cooperation was essential as they established new frontier settlements. Collective difficulties like drought and disease probably made opposing views on salvation and baptism seem less important. Poverty, the lack of religious leadership, or common interest in the gospel brought people together for worship, singing, special conferences, or mission projects.

And what about the question of nonresistance, which in the Russian setting meant that all Mennonite males served in the forestry service? When it commenced in 1880, its annual cost was borne by all Mennonites through a tax levy. Such money matters sustained inter-Mennonite dialogue.

There was another issue which brought Mennonites together: they were Germans living in a Slavic land. Nationalistic pressures intensified throughout the 1890s bringing with it a demand for Russian as the language of instruction and a loss of autonomy for local school boards. In response the Mennonites made tremendous efforts in upgrading both their schools and the qualifications of their teachers. Perhaps religious differences faded into the background in the struggle to sustain a distinct Russian-Mennonite peoplehood.

Confronted by Russian nationalism, the struggle for a distinct identity looked towards all things German. Future teachers attended schools in Germany and Switzerland. Mennonite readers, whether they belonged to the Mennonite church or the Brethren, imported vast quantities of religious pamphlets and books from Germany. Mennonite estate owners sponsored week-long seminars for teachers featuring theologians and writers from Germany. 35 However Mennonite or non-Mennonite the emerging theological mix might have been, such gatherings minimized the polarizations of the past.


After his election as an itinerant minister in 1888, Herman Neufeld’s journal entries list the ongoing conversions and baptisms. Revival and renewal seemed to be taken for granted. Yet as the decade of the 1890s progresses, he speaks less of conversion and church growth. In 1897 he recorded an experience which, on the surface, appears trivial. He was requested to attend the annual Allianz Conference in Blankenburg, Germany. The Conference, founded in 1885, focused mainly on the inner life, stressing personal faith, baptism, and interdenominational fellowship through the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. It was concerned with evangelism and renewal on a transdenominational level. {150}

In his journal Neufeld noted that while he enjoyed the Conference he could not join in the concluding communion service. Was his experience symbolic of what was happening to the Brethren as the nineteenth century drew to a close? In their early history they had evangelized and baptized Lutherans, Catholics, and even Orthodox. Now, when confronted by a renewal movement which again crossed denominational lines, there was discomfort with the question of open or closed communion. The source of that uneasiness was obvious. Restricted communion and immersion baptism had for decades been key elements in Brethren identity. Now there were those in the group who wished to enlarge the perimeters. The resulting struggle would bring sharp internal divisions among the Mennonite Brethren during the first decade of the twentieth century.

Why did a relatively minor issue become so important to the Russian Mennonite Brethren at the end of the nineteenth century? Ironically, it may have been a mark of maturation. Over four decades the Brethren defined the borders of their church both as to polity and to piety. Practices initially emerging in a setting of persecution and exclusion from the larger body had, by 1900, become sacred traditions. A movement which preached to all who would listen in the 1860s now censored those who, inspired by the Allianz vision, wished to broaden the definition of Christ’s kingdom. The majority wanted to contain what they had.

All this did not destroy the accumulated good: the balance between experience and discipleship, the intimate sense of covenant community, and the concern with Christian lifestyle. Yet there was possibly the flavor of mild decay, a preoccupation with the conventional and known, a reluctance to transcend the comfort level of structures built up over forty years. Ironically, in less than two decades the upheavals generated by war, revolution, and civil war would trivialize the problems faced by the Mennonite Brethren at the beginning of the twentieth century.


  1. John B. Toews, “Early Mennonite Brethren and Evangelism in Russia,” Direction 28 (fall 1999): 187-200.
  2. David Duerksen, Sermon Collection (Center for Mennonite Brethren Studies, Fresno, CA); Herman A. Neufeld, Journals (Center for Mennonite Brethren Studies, Winnipeg, MB), “Predigtentwuerfe.”
  3. Herman A. Neufeld, Journals, II (1904).
  4. P. M. Friesen, Die alt-evangelische Mennonitische Bruederschaft in Russland (1789-1910) (Halbstadt, Taurien: Raduga, 1911), 439-82. {151}
  5. Jacob Jantz, “Reisebericht,” Zions-Bote, 1890, no. 5, 1.
  6. Jacob Fast, “Margenau,” Zions-Bote, 1890, no. 7, 1-2.
  7. Wilhelm Loewen, “Ein Reisebericht,” Zions-Bote, 1890, no. 48, 1; also see 1890, no. 16, 1.
  8. David Duerksen, “Reisebericht ueber eine Reise nach Samara,” Zions-Bote, 1890, no. 33, 1.
  9. David Duerksen, “Russland,” Zions-Bote, 1891, no. 1, 2.
  10. Jacob Jantz, “Reisebericht,” Zions-Bote, 1894, no. 3, 2-3.
  11. David Duerksen, “Reisebericht,” Zions-Bote, 1894, no. 49, 3. A verst is equivalent to 1.067 km and .6629 mi.
  12. See Herman A. Neufeld, Herman and Katharina: Their Story (Winnipeg, MB: Center for Mennonite Brethren Studies, 1984).
  13. Jacob Jantz, “Jahresbericht von der Gemeinde Friedensfeld 1889,” Zions-Bote, 1890, no. 10, 1-2.
  14. Jacob Jantz, “Russland,” Zions-Bote, 1890, no. 18, 2-3.
  15. K. Fehr, “Russland,” Zions-Bote, 1894, no. 13, 2-3.
  16. Zions-Bote, 1894, no. 9, 3; 1895, no. 12, 2-3; 1897, no. 5, 2; 1898, no. 4, 2-3; 1899, no. 30, 1-2.
  17. Zions-Bote, 1895, no. 14, 3; 1899, no. 12, 2-3; Friedensstimme, 1907, no. 1, 3-4; 1907, no. 2, 14-16; 1907, no. 3, 27-28.
  18. See Albert W. Wardin, “Baptist Influences on Mennonite Brethren with an Emphasis on the Practice of Immersion,” Direction 8 (Oct. 1979): 33-38.
  19. Kargel’s account of his involvement with the evangelical movement in Russia can be found in J. G. Kargel, Zwischen den Enden der Erde: Unter Bruedern in Ketten (Wernigerode am Harz: Licht im Osten, 1928).
  20. “Margenau, Russland,” Zions-Bote, 1894, no. 14, 7-8.
  21. David Schellenberg, “Jahresbericht von 1889,” Zions-Bote, 1890, no. 8, 1.
  22. Zions-Bote, 1894, no. 5, 4; 1894, no. 30, 3; 1895, no. 2, 4.
  23. Jakob Rempel, “Etwas aus Spat,” Zions-Bote, 1890, no. 31, 1.
  24. Zions-Bote, “Russland,” 1890, no. 7, 1.
  25. Zions-Bote, 1894, no. 6, 3.
  26. Jacob Jantz, “Jahresbericht von der Gemeinde Friedensfeld 1890,” Zions-Bote, 1890, no. 10, 1; 1894, no. 30, 3; 1895, no. 2, 4.
  27. Friesen, 471-72.
  28. Ibid., 476.; Zions-Bote, 1895, no. 44, 1; 1895, no. 10, 4.
  29. Zions-Bote, 1891, no. 22, 2-3; 1894, no. 12; 1895, no. 34.
  30. To date the major study in this area is Peter Letkemann’s “The Hymnody and Choral Music of Mennonites in Russia, 1789-1915” {152} (Ph.D. diss., University of Toronto, 1985). See also Wesley Berg, From Russia with Music (Winnipeg, MB: Hyperion, 1985), 13-39.
  31. F. Schweiger, “Ein Besuch unter den Saengern in Russland,” Zions-Bote, 1894, no. 39, 3-4; see also 1895, no. 9, 3; 1895, no. 10, 3; 1895, no. 22, 4.
  32. The publication was first known as Saengerfreund. In 1891, Born changed the name to Liederperlen. Sessions for choir directors were held as early as 1895. See Zions-Bote, 1895, no. 9, 3; 1895, no. 10, 3; also Zions-Bote, 1895, no. 22, 4.
  33. K. Isaak, “Vom Rueckenauer Juenglingsverein,” Zions-Bote, 1891, no. 2, 1. Marienthal in the Samara settlement reported twenty children in Sunday school in 1896. See Zions-Bote, 1897, no. 5, 2.
  34. B. B. Janz Collection (Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies, Winnipeg, Manitoba), Memoirs, “Grundzuege in Charakter der Glaubensstellung unserer Vaeter,” 8-10.
  35. Friedensstimme, 1906, no. 23, 239; 1909, no. 50, 2-3; 1909, no. 38, 3-4.
John B. Toews is Professor of Church History and Anabaptist Studies at Regent College, Vancouver, British Columbia.

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