Regier, Johann J. (1839-1902)
Johann J. Regier: minister and teacher; born on 22 March 1839 in Gnadenheim, Molotschna Mennonite settlement, South Russia, to Johann Regier (d. 1866) and Susanna (Quiring) Regier. Johann was second of 14 children in the family. The Regiers moved to Hierschau as founding settlers in 1848. In 1858, Johann married Katharina Franzen and the couple settled in Hierschau. The couple had seven children, three of whom died in early childhood. Katharina died in 1875 while giving birth to the couple’s seventh child. On 7 September 1875, Johann married Maria Schellenberg. The couple had six children, one (John S. Regier) of whom became a traveling minister for the Mennonite Brethren Church. Johann died in Henderson, Nebraska on 8 July 1902 after a lengthy illness.
In his childhood years, Johann probably started his education at the village school in Gnadenheim and then completed it in Hierschau. After his marriage to Katharina Franzen in 1858, he settled down as a farmer in Hierschau. Three years later, Johann and Katharina moved to Klippenfeld, where land was still available for their children. Johann’s father died in 1866 and his mother remarried but died not long afterward.
In 1870, both Johann and his wife Katharina, following a conversion experience, were baptized and joined the Mennonite Brethren Church. On 10 April 1873, Johann was ordained as a minister; he continued to farm in Klippenfeld, but in the off-season he traveled widely, preaching and teaching wherever he went.
Together with about 700-800 other Mennonites, Johann and his family left the Molotschna in mid-May 1879. They traveled to Antwerp by train, where they boarded a ship bound for the United States. Five of their children, as well as Johann’s brother Kornelius, were also on board. The migrants arrived in Philadelphia on 24 June and the next day began a four-day train trip to Nebraska.
Regier and his family settled in Boone County, Nebraska, where Johann helped establish the Henderson Mennonite Brethren congregation in 1878. In 1882, he accepted a call to become leader of the church, a position he held until his death. He continued to make his living as a farmer while serving as the leading minister of the Henderson congregation, also continuing his itinerant ministry to many congregations in Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, and California. He was chairman of the first Mennonite Brethren conference in North America, and he served on the Home Missions committee.
In 1895, Johann and his family went on an extended trip to Russia, where they visited Klippenfeld, as well as Waldheim and other villages in the Molotschna. Johann also went through the Crimea and Chortitza, holding public meetings and making many home visits. Two of the Regier children became seriously ill from smallpox during the trip, and the family was delayed near Berlin, Germany, for six weeks while the boys recovered. The family finally arrived in the United States in June 1896.
Regier arrived home exhausted from the trip and spent some time recovering after the family’s return. When he eventually regained his strength, he continued his work in the church, including his itinerant ministry. Early in 1902, he started to have serious stomach and nervous troubles, and he preached his last sermon on 9 March, using Psalm 23 as his text. He died of his illness on 8 July 1902, and his funeral was 11 July.
Johann J. Regier devoted his life to serving God and the church, even to his last moments. He remained faithful through the trials of his life, becoming an inspiration for the people he encountered and for the generations that followed.
Friesen, Peter M. The Mennonite Brotherhood in Russia (1789-1910), trans. J. B. Toews and others. Fresno, CA: Board of Christian Literature [M.B.], 1978, rev. ed. 1980: 516-520.
Hiebert, Clarence. Brothers in Deed to Brothers in Need. Newton, KS: Faith and Life Press, 1974: 360.
Hiebert, Clarence. The Henderson Mennonite Brethren 1878-1978. Henderson, Nebraska: Centennial Committee of the Mennonite Brethren Churches, 1979: 91-97.
Huebert, Helmut T. Hierschau: An example of Russian Mennonite Life. Winnipeg: Springfield Publishers, 1986.
Lohrenz, John M. The Mennonite Brethren Church. Hillsboro, KS: The Mennonite Brethren Publishing House, 1950: 317.
Mennonitische Rundschau (10 September 1902): 4 ; (1 January 1903): 12.
Unruh, A. H. Die Geschichte der Mennoniten Brüdergemeinde. Hillsboro, KS: Fürsorgekomitee der Generalkonferenz von Nord-Amerika, 1954: 448.
Zionsbote (24 July 1895): 4; (11 August 1895): 4; (22 January 1896): 3; (24 June 1896): 6; (16 July 1902): 6; (20 August 1902): 5; (4 September 1918): 4; (28 January 1925): 11.
©1996-2013 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.
MLA style: Huebert, Helmut T. and Susan Huebert. "Regier, Johann J. (1839-1902)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. May 2009. Web. 21 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/regier_johann_j._1839_1902.
APA style: Huebert, Helmut T. and Susan Huebert. (May 2009). Regier, Johann J. (1839-1902). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 21 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/regier_johann_j._1839_1902.