Weber, Elias (1834-1909)
Elias Weber: bishop and farmer; born 22 February 1834 in Berlin (now Kitchener), Ontario to David and Catherine (Eby) Weber. He was the oldest child in a family of five sons and six daughters. He was a grandson of Bishop Benjamin Eby. On 20 March 1855 Elias married Mary Shoemaker (6 April 1832-14 November 1921). They had six daughters and three sons. Elias died 23 January 1909.
By vocation Elias Weber was a farmer; he and his family lived west of the town of Breslau. His education was limited to the primary schools of his day.
As a young man Elias Weber joined the Cressman congregation at Breslau. In 1867 he was ordained as a deacon for the congregation, and in 1874 as a minister. After the death of Bishop Joseph Hagey, he was ordained in 1879 as the bishop for the Waterloo Township churches. The major crisis of his bishopric was the division within the Ontario Mennonite Conference that led to the formation of the Old Order Mennonite conference in the late 1880s. Abraham Martin was the conservative bishop in Waterloo County, who held responsibility for the congregations in Woolwich Township. In 1885 a number of converts resulted from a series of evening meetings in Woolwich Townships. Martin opposed these revivalistic-style meetings and refused to instruct or baptize the group of over 30 coverts. After some delay, Elias Weber agreed to baptize the converts, which he did in three different groups from May-July, 1885. A series of other issues found Bishops Martin and Weber on different sides, and in 1889 the division became final.
Elias Weber also helped to organize the Alberta Conference (later the Alberta-Saskatchewan Conference and still later the Northwest Mennonite Conference) in July 1903. He ordained Amos Bauman as the bishop for the three-congregation conference at that time.
Elias Weber was said to have a genial, but cautious, personality. He was not as gifted speaker as some other leaders in the conference, nor did he leave a legacy of writings. But Weber provided moderate leadership at a time more educated, aggressive Mennonite leaders from the U.S. were influencing the Ontario churches in more progressive directions.
Eby, Ezra E. A Biographical History of Early Settlers and Their Descendants in Waterloo Township, with additional information by Eldon D. Weber. Kitchener, ON: E.D. Weber, 1971: 364, S-46.
Burkholder, L. J. A Brief History of the Mennonites in Ontario. (Kitchener, ON: Mennonite Conference of Ontario, 1935: 68, 310.
Good, E. Reginald. Frontier Community to Urban Congregation: First Mennonite Church, Kitchener 1813-1988. Kitchener, ON: The Church, 1988: 90-96.
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MLA style: Steiner, Sam. "Weber, Elias (1834-1909)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. April 2002. Web. 19 June 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/W4333.html.
APA style: Steiner, Sam. (April 2002). Weber, Elias (1834-1909). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 19 June 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/W4333.html.