Lenzmann, August (1823-1877)
August Lenzmann: an influential Mennonite leader and elder at Gnadenfeld, Russia; born 29 January 1823 in Brenkenhoffswalde, Prussia, Germany, the third of four children of Hermann Lenzmann (b. ca. 1791) and Eva Rosina (Hahn) Lenzmann (b. ca. 1794). The wife of August is unknown, but he is known to have had at least three children: Hermann, Maria and Anna. August died in 1877.
August and his parents were originally Lutheran, but they joined the local Mennonite congregation before it immigrated to Gnadenfeld under the leadership of Elder Wilhelm Lange. Lenzmann was baptized on 27 May 1834, chosen as minister in 1851 and as elder in 1854. He was a cofounder of the Gnadenfeld Bruderschule and an intimate friend of Eduard Wüst, of whom he says, "The memories of the brotherly fellowship which he enjoyed with the dear Pastor Wüst until his departure from the struggling to the triumphant church will always remain a blessing for me" (Friesen, 171). Herman Lenzmann, his son, also speaks of the close and fraternal contact between his father and Wüst (Menn. Jahrbuch 1904-5, 78).
Lenzmann was the elder of the Gnadenfeld Mennonite Church at the time when the Mennonite Brethren Church originated. He was the one whom the brethren approached before their separation with the request that he administer the Lord's Supper to them privately; but he refused to do this because he considered it contrary to Mennonite practice and likely to disturb the unity within the brotherhood (Friesen, 319). Lenzmann tried to direct those favoring a separatist movement. Johann Claassen, the leader of this group, was a member of his church and had been the cofounder of the Bruderschule. The experience of failing to reconcile various extremes within his congregation and the entire Molotschna Mennonite settlement disappointed Lenzmann. His later relationship with the Mennonite Brethren and also the Friends of Jerusalem was somewhat influenced by these bitter experiences, which are also reflected in the account which he published in the Mennonitische Blatter (No. 6, 1863). He states that it was a falsification of facts to claim that "the brethren who had left the church were the real and genuine children and followers of Pastor Wüst and that they were persecuted primarily because of this; a rude blasphemy against the deceased who cannot defend himself. . . . Wüst did not hesitate to admonish them according to Scripture and asked them to give up their pride and to humble themselves before the Lord" because they had emphasized the "free grace" of God in a wrong manner (Friesen, 318). Many of the official communications (published by Isaac) bear Lenzmann's signature. Lenzmann objected particularly to the Mennonite Brethren claims that before Wüst there had been "neither a vital religious life nor any mission festivals" among the Mennonites, for such activities had been an old practice at Gnadenfeld and Rudnerweide.
Lenzmann also had to deal with another controversial question pertaining to the Friends of Jerusalem, when Johann Lange, who taught at the Bruderschule, spread views of this group to which Lenzmann objected. Lenzmann was an outstanding leader promoting an active and vital Christianity among the Mennonites of the Molotschna. It was unfortunate that he and others did not manage to keep all forces and movements in one fold. He probably suffered more under it than anyone else. His account and role in the religious developments of 1850-1860 is very significant and deserves careful study and analysis, particularly since he and his congregation were by background and development related most closely to the revivalistic and pietistic views emphasized by Wüst.
Friesen, Peter M. Die Alt-Evangelische Mennonitische Brüderschaft in Russland (1789-1910) im Rahmen der mennonitischen Gesamtgeschichte. Halbstadt: Verlagsgesellschaft "Raduga", 1911: 171, 317 ff., 743.
GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 5.03 ed. Fresno, CA: California Mennonite Historical Society, 2007: #706252.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967 II: 638 f.
Isaac, Franz. Die Molotschnaer Mennoniten. Ein beitrag zur geschichte derselben. Aus akten älterer und neuerer zeit, wie auch auf grund eigener erlebnisse und erfahrungen dargestellt. Halbstadt [Russia]: H.J. Braun, 1908.
Mennonitische Blätter (16 March 1863).
Mennonitisches Jahrbuch (1904-5): 78.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, pp. 323-324. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Krahn, Cornelius and Richard D. Thiessen. "Lenzmann, August (1823-1877)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. November 2007. Web. 22 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/lenzmann_august_1823_1877.
APA style: Krahn, Cornelius and Richard D. Thiessen. (November 2007). Lenzmann, August (1823-1877). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/lenzmann_august_1823_1877.