Steiner, Menno Simon (1866-1911)
Menno Simon Steiner (1866-1911), a Mennonite (Mennonite Church) preacher and leader, was born near Beaverdam, Ohio, on 30 April 1866, a son of Christian Peter Steiner, a farmer-preacher, and Barbara Thut. He graduated from the Bluffton (Ohio) High School in 1887. Two years previously he had united with his home congregation, the Riley Creek Church (later called Zion), and soon felt a special call to the ministry.
While Steiner was teaching school (1887-90), John F. Funk in 1889 persuaded him to work for the Mennonite Publishing Company at Elkhart, Indiana. During several summer vacations he traveled for this company among various branches of Mennonites. In letters, diaries, and in numerous articles in the Herald of Truth he revealed many of the needs and problems he discovered. In 1889 he became the first secretary of the Mennonite Book and Tract Society. He interrupted his career at Elkhart to attend Oberlin College for theological training (1891-92). In 1892 he helped John S. Coffman promote the important first general Sunday-school conference, held near Goshen, Indiana. He was chosen moderator of the conference.
Early in 1893 Steiner was ordained to the ministry at Elkhart by Bishop John F. Funk. At the second general Mennonite Sunday-school conference in 1893 he was appointed to establish a mission in Chicago, also to edit a young people's paper. The Home Mission, which he founded in 1893, was the first city mission of the Mennonites in America. On 8 April 1894, he married Clara Daisy Eby. They opened a mission at Canton, Ohio, in January 1895, but remained there for only one year. Meanwhile, he began to hold evangelistic meetings, which occasioned his visits to many states and Canadian provinces. He was also the moving spirit (and sole president) in the organization of the Mennonite Board of Charitable Homes (1889), which merged in 1906 with the Mennonite Evangelizing and Benevolent Board to become the Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities, of which he was the first president, serving until his death in 1911. He sought without success to include several smaller Mennonite branches (Evangelical Mennonite Brethren, Central Conference) in this mission organization.
After 1897 he lived on a small farm east of Columbus Grove, Ohio, where he eked out a modest living, aided by his loyal wife and friends. He helped his father in ministering to the Zion Church, but he was often busy away from home on church work. Here four of his five children were born, namely, Esther A. (Mrs. J. C. Meyer), Luke E., Paul E., and C. Grace (Mrs. Ivan Hostetler). The oldest, Charity E. (Mrs. Lester Hostetler), was born at Canton, Ohio.
Steiner wrote two books, Pitfalls and Safeguards (1899), and a biography, John S. Coffman (1903). He was the first editor of the Young People's Paper (Elkhart, Indiana), serving from January 1894 to March 1895. He carried on a heavy correspondence in his capacity as president of the Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities and two antecedent boards, from 1899 until his death. He helped to organize several charitable institutions, particularly the Mennonite Old People's Home, established in 1901 near Rittman, Ohio.
He died at the Bluffton Sanitarium on 12 March 1911, and was buried in the Zion cemetery, west of Bluffton, Ohio. An obituary was published in the Gospel Herald on 23 March 1911.
Hartzler, J. S. and Daniel Kauffman. Mennonite Church History (Scottdale, 1905).
Kauffman, Daniel. Mennonite Cyclopedic Dictionary (Scottdale, 1937) ; (this is useful but contains some errors).
Umble, John S. Mennonite Historical Bulletin (1941).
Umble, John S. Mennonite Pioneers. Scottdale, 1940: Chapter V.
Umble, John S. Ohio Mennonite Sunday Schools. Goshen, 1941.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 626-627. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Meyer, Mrs. J. C. "Steiner, Menno Simon (1866-1911)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 24 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/steiner_menno_simon_1866_1911.
APA style: Meyer, Mrs. J. C. (1959). Steiner, Menno Simon (1866-1911). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/steiner_menno_simon_1866_1911.