Thielmann, Gerhard G. "George" (1909-1991)
|Gerhard and Agnes Thielmann, June 1960
Source: Herta Loewen, Abbotsford BC
Gerhard G. "George" Thielmann, minister and teacher, was born 14 September 1909 in Alexanderwohl, Molotschna Mennonite Settlement, South Russia, the fourth of eight children of Gerhard G. Thielmann (9 May 1866 - 2 June 1918) and his second wife, Helena (Riediger) Thielmann (11 September 1874 - 30 November 1930). He married Agnes Toews (28 October 1909, Rückenau, Molotschna - 31 October 1991, Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada) on 27 April 1935 in Namaka, Alberta. Agnes was the daughter of Aron A. Toews (1884-1969) and Agnes (Harms) Toews (1886-1978). They had eight children, four daughters and four sons. George passed away 26 April 1991 in Abbotsford, British Columbia.
George migrated as a fifteen-year old youth to Canada with the Abram Epp family in 1925, with plans for his mother and family to follow later on. In the end he was the only member of his family to leave Russia. His ambition was to farm and to serve the Lord by ministering, preaching and teaching. He attended Coaldale Bible School and Winkler Bible Institute for four years, graduating from Winkler in 1933. George was baptized on 3 August 1930 in the Coaldale Mennonite Brethren Church. After graduation he farmed in Alberta and taught for eight years at the Bethesda Bible School in Gem, Alberta. In 1942 George and his family moved to Namaka to help his father-in-law, Aron A. Toews, on the farm.
In 1947 Thielmann was invited to become the principal and an instructor of the newly established East Chilliwack Mennonite Brethren Bible School. He served in this capacity until 1956. Thielmann also became the leading minister of the East Chilliwack Mennonite Brethren Church in 1950, serving until 1969. During most of this time George owned and operated a dairy farm in East Chilliwack before moving to Chilliwack in 1966/67. George once said, "As I milked the cows or drove the tractor, I would prepare speeches."
Upon his resignation from the ministry in East Chilliwack, George became pastor of the Vancouver Mennonite Brethren Church for eight years. In 1978 the Thielmanns moved to Asuncion, Paraguay for seven months to teach and preach in the various Mennonite colonies. They then retired to Chilliwack, where he shared the preaching and teaching duties in the German service in the Broadway Mennonite Brethren Church. They moved to Clearbrook in 1987 where George cared for Agnes who suffered from Alzheimer's disease. He preached occasionally in Clearbrook Mennonite Brethren Church. He remained physically active throughout much of his life and jogged and rode his bicycle well into retirement. Terminal cancer was diagnosed in January 1991 and he passed away within a few months.
George Thielmann was very active in the work of the Mennonite Central Committee. This commitment to relief most likely stemmed from the aid he himself received as a child in Russia, when his family almost starved to death in the winter of 1921. "In the Thielmann family, George, the middle child, was chosen to get a daily cup of cocoa or a bun. 'You had to eat it there; you couldn't take it home to share. That probably saved my life'" (Lescheid: 17-18). Thielmann soon became involved in the MCC in BC, serving for three years as vice-chairman before taking on the role of chairman from 1955 until 1971. George also served on the board of MCC Canada.
Thielmann was assistant moderator of the BC Mennonite Brethren Conference from 1955 until 1958 and was elected to a number of Canadian Mennonite Brethren Conference committees during the 1950s and 1960s, most notably the Relief Board, the Bethesda Committee for Western Patients, and the Nonresistance/Peace Committee (Wehrfrage Committee).
Thielmann was a tireless worker in the church and was known for his servant attitude, always putting others ahead of himself.
Lescheid, Helen Grace, ed. Footprints of Compassion. Clearbrook, BC: MCC-BC, 1989.
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MLA style: Thiessen, Richard D. "Thielmann, Gerhard G. "George" (1909-1991)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. March 2003. Web. 26 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/T5545.html.
APA style: Thiessen, Richard D. (March 2003). Thielmann, Gerhard G. "George" (1909-1991). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 26 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/T5545.html.