Liebig, August G. A. (1836-1914)
August G. A. Liebig: Baptist preacher of Hamburg, Germany, who gave valuable assistance to the Mennonite Brethren movement in Russia; born 14 February 1836 in Bernstein, Neumark, Prussia. He was the fourth child of Friedrich Wilhelm and Henriette Liebig, who were Lutherans. On 7 September 1865 August married Sophia Ratzeburg (1844 - 4 February 1912). Together they had ten children, of which five lived to adulthood: Marie, Martha, August, Johannes, and Elisabeth. Liebig died on 19 August 1914 in Pleasant Valley, North Dakota, USA and was buried in the First German Baptist Church Cemetery in McClusky, North Dakota. Ludwig Seibel and Heinrich Voth, long-time Mennonite Brethren leaders, were among the speakers at his funeral.
In 1846 the German Baptists, founded by Gerhard Oncken in Hamburg in 1834, established a church in nearby Stettin and August Liebig was converted and baptized into the church. Five of the Liebig brothers, including August, became active ministers in the Baptist church.
Liebig began his ministry in a small church in Bucharest, Romania in 1863. In 1865 he spent six months at the Mission school in Hamburg and married Sophia Ratzeburg in that year. At approximately this time he made his first contacts with exiles from South Russia, some of whom were connected with the fledgling Mennonite Brethren movement that began in 1860. Liebig was soon exiled to Turkey where he also came in contact with Mennonite Brethren and baptized a number of individuals.
Liebig’s main contribution to the Mennonite Brethren came when the young church at Einlage, Chortitza Mennonite Settlement, South Russia, appealed to Gerhard Oncken for help. Oncken sent Liebig who arrived on 5 May 1866. He found the church in disarray and instituted a measure of order, including the taking of minutes and restriction on the number of times an individual could speak on a given issue. Liebig’s activity was soon noted by the authorities and he was arrested, but soon freed.
In 1871 Liebig was invited to return to Einlage because the church was still experiencing difficulty regarding issues such as military service and smoking. Liebig was able to restore order. In May 1872 he presided at the organizational meeting of the Mennonite Brethren Conference in Andreasfeld and also presided at a number of later conferences and conducted Bible courses. He became the pastor of the Odessa German Baptist Church in 1874 where he ministered effectively until 1887. He then spent several years at churches in Lodz in Russian Poland and in Stettin, Germany.
In 1892 the Liebig family migrated to America where they worked among German Baptists and Mennonite Brethren. Five remaining children accompanied them: Marie, 22; Martha (married to Peter Wedel and then to Jakob Wahl [1865-1935]), 19; August, 17; Johannes, 9; and Elisabeth, 6. Liebig became the pastor of the Plum Creek Baptist Church in South Dakota and settled in Bridgewater. In 1903 they moved to Denhoff, North Dakota where Liebig established the Denhoff First German Baptist Church. He also resumed relationships with the Mennonite Brethren, who had settled in various communities in North and South Dakota, and was frequently invited to preach and to conduct Bible courses.
Liebig’s daughter, Martha (1873?-1915), was married to Peter Wedel, son of Cornelius P. Wedel (brother of Cornelius H. Wedel, the first president of Bethel College) in 1895 and the couple became missionaries in Cameroon under the Baptists, and also supported by the Mennonite Brethren. Peter soon became ill and died in 1897.
Liebig is recognized for his devoted and humble leadership among both German Baptists and Mennonite Brethren in Europe and in America. He was known as a missionary, conciliator, and organizer and left a permanent mark on both movements.
Dueck, Abe J. "August G.A. Liebig and his North American Legacy." Mennonite Historian 38, 3 (September 2012): 1, 6-7.
Friesen, Peter M. Die Alt-Evangelische Mennonitische Brȕderschaft in Russland (1789-1910). Halbstadt: Raduga, 1911.
Wardin, Albert W. Jr. "August G. A. Liebig: German Baptist Missionary and Friend to the Mennonite Brethren." Journal of Mennonite Studies 28 (2010): 167-186.
©1996-2013 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.
MLA style: Dueck, Abe J. "Liebig, August G. A. (1836-1914)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. October 2012. Web. 21 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/liebig_august_b._1836.
APA style: Dueck, Abe J. (October 2012). Liebig, August G. A. (1836-1914). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 21 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/liebig_august_b._1836.