Epp, Jacob J. (1887-1987)
Jacob J. Epp: teacher, preacher and farmer; b. 5 December 1887 in Fischau, Molotschna Colony, Russia to Jakob Heinrich (1860-1934) and Maria (Giesbrecht) Epp, (1865-1931) and d. 1 August 1987 at the age of 99. He was the third child in a family of seven sons and ten daughters, fifteen of whom survived childhood. On 29 August 1917 he married Helene Franz Willms, (1890-1984) born to Franz and Anna Willms in Karasan, Crimea. They had four children, Elsie b. 1922, Helene b. 1929, Anna Marie b. 1931 and Jacob b. 1933.
When he completed elementary school in Fischau, he attended high school for three years and then went to Halbstadt for two years of teacher's college. He wrote his examinations in Yalta, in the Crimea in 1906 and started his teaching career with two years in Konteniusfeld followed by four years in Tiegenhagen. He was baptized at this time by Jacob Toews in Lichtenau.
In 1912 he was offered a teaching position in Schönau. At the start of World War I teachers were exempt from military duty, but within a year they too were drafted. They were allowed to do alternative service and Jacob spent two years in a forestry camp. Upon his return he and his new wife moved into the teacher’s residence in Schoenau. It was in Schönau that he started to preach at Sunday services, a ministry that lasted almost 50 years.
Like so many others in their community, the Epps left Russia in November of 1925 and arrived in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. In the spring of 1926 the family moved to Pelee Island in Lake Erie, near Leamington were he again was asked to preach. He was ordained by Jacob H. Janzen in October 1927 and asked to move to Port Rowan to serve a small group of Mennonites. For eight years he served as preacher and choir leader and started a Sunday school for the children. In 1935 the family again returned to Leamington to preach, teach and organize German and summer Bible schools. He resigned from preaching in 1965 because of poor eyesight.
Jacob Epp had a deep concern for the spirituality of the congregation whose foundation, he affirmed, lay in teaching the children. He was Sunday School superintendent at the Leamington United Mennonite Church from 1946 until 1959. In this role he was able to participate in Sunday School conferences, advise teachers, recommend reading material and offer encouragement. He appreciated the support of his fellow ministers and the friendliness of the congregation, making his work for the Lord in the Leamington congregation easier. In addition to his service to the church, Jacob Epp had a strong sense of religious conviction that helped him through his long life. His example was an inspiration to his children and grandchildren.
“Jacob J. Epp.” Der Bote 64 (9 September 1987): 7.
Koop, Astrid and Gisela Schartner, eds. Biographies of our late leaders 1925-1995. Leamington, ON: Essex-Kent Mennonite Historical Association, 1995.
©1996-2013 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.
MLA style: Epp, Helene, Anne Marie Epp and Jacob Epp. "Epp, Jacob J. (1887-1987)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. January 2008. Web. 23 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/epp_jacob_j._1887_1987.
APA style: Epp, Helene, Anne Marie Epp and Jacob Epp. (January 2008). Epp, Jacob J. (1887-1987). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/epp_jacob_j._1887_1987.