Duerksen, John F. (1863-1932)
John F. Duerksen, a pioneer educator in the Mennonite Brethren Church of North America, was born in Alexandertal, Molotschna Mennonite settlement, South Russia, 25 July 1863. He was the oldest of the seven children of Jacob J. and Katharina Funk Duerksen. After receiving an elementary education in the village, Duerksen attended the Zentralschule at Gnadenfeld and the teacher-training school at Neu-Halbstadt. Then he entered the teaching profession and taught in the Mennonite schools for three years.
At the age of 15 he was converted and on 30 April 1879 joined the Mennonite Brethren Church. He early felt called to Christian service and at the age of 21 dedicated himself for such service.
In 1887 he emigrated to the United States and joined his parents in Kansas, who had preceded him three years earlier. Here he taught school near Lehigh, Kansas, 1887-1890, and in a Mennonite Vereinsschule near Buhler, Kansas, 1890-1899.
In 1899 the Mennonite Brethren Conference decided to affiliate with the Brethren College at McPherson, Kansas, and to establish a department of its own in that institution. Duerksen was principal of this educational effort for six years, during which he was instrumental in training many of the early leaders of the Mennonite Brethren Church. When this German department school at McPherson was discontinued in 1905, the Duerksen family moved to Corn, Oklahoma, where he established the Corn Academy and Bible School, serving as its principal for 11 years. He was ordained to the ministry in 1919, and served as assistant pastor of the Corn Mennonite Brethren Church for 16 years in addition to his work in education.
Duerksen was a very active conference worker, serving repeatedly on the secretarial staff and was the secretary of the General Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, 1919-1921. He was editor of the Sunday school quarterly of the Mennonite Brethren Church for many years.
Duerksen married Katharina Warkentin on 9 January 1890. To this union seven children were born. After the death of his first wife, he married Mrs. Gertrude Warkentin on 24 September 1924. He died 1 May 1932, and was interred in the Corn Mennonite Brethren Church cemetery.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 106. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Lohrenz, John H. "Duerksen, John F. (1863-1932)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 24 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/duerksen_john_f._1863_1932.
APA style: Lohrenz, John H. (1956). Duerksen, John F. (1863-1932). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/duerksen_john_f._1863_1932.