Penner, Bernhard (1756-1791)
Bernhard (Behrent) Penner: elder; born 28 October 1756, the son of Dirck Penner (ca. 1725 – bef. 1765) and Katharina (Wieler) Penner (25 December 1730 – 21 July 1803). Bernhard married Anna Epp (1760 – December 1826) on 31 March 1777. Anna was the daughter of Johann Epp (ca. 1735 – 21 May 1792) and Maria (Rogalski) Epp (ca. 1735 – 19 September 1781). Bernhard died 27 July 1791 in the Chortitza Mennonite Settlement, South Russia. After his death, Bernhard’s widow Anna married Peter Wiebe (b. 1769).
Bernhard was the first elder of the Chortitza Mennonite congregations in the Chortitza settlement in South Russia. Bernhard immigrated from West Prussia to Russia with the first wave of settlers. When the group, traveling without a minister, reached Dubrovka in the Russian province of Mohilev, he was chosen as minister and confirmed in this office by the home congregations in West Prussia by letter. In 1790 he was chosen as elder in Chortitza, this office being again confirmed by the home congregations.
The conduct of his office was by no means easy. The severe difficulties of pioneering were heightened by strife in the church life. The poverty was so dire that he had to appear in borrowed boots to conduct communion and baptismal services. In addition to all this, his health was poor. He therefore asked to have a co-elder chosen in 1791; the man chosen, however, declined the office. Penner then wrote an epistle (Hirtenbrief) requesting that the congregation choose an elder immediately after his death. He died in 1791 after serving only one year as elder.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 134. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Schellenberg, Bernhard J. and Richard D. Thiessen. "Penner, Bernhard (1756-1791)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. August 2006. Web. 25 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/P46602.html.
APA style: Schellenberg, Bernhard J. and Richard D. Thiessen. (August 2006). Penner, Bernhard (1756-1791). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 25 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/P46602.html.