Obersülzen (Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany)
Obersülzen, a village near Grünstadt in the Palatinate, Germany, in which there was a comparatively large Anabaptist congregation in 1568 with preachers and deacons. After the Thirty Years' War the congregation was united with Gerolsheim and Heppenheim a.d. Wiese. Regular church services were held in rotation in the three villages. The congregation was originally called Gerolsheim; Müller states that Dirmstein and Offstein belonged to the total congregation. In 1732 it numbered 40 families; the preachers were Hans and Christian Borckholder, the deacons were Christian Stauffer of Obersülzen and Johannes Hirschler of Gerolsheim; in 1769 the congregation had 69 baptized members. Beginning in 1783 the congregation was called Heppenheim. It is listed thus in the resolutions of Ibersheim, which were signed for the congregation by Gerhard Hüthwohl of Heppenheim. Several years later the center of gravity shifted to Obersülzen, which has remained the seat of the congregation. Since the middle of the 19th century it has been merged with Monsheim.
In 1671 a number of Swiss Mennonite emigrants settled near Obersülzen. Jacob Everlin (Eberlinck), probably a minister of the Obersülzen congregation, corresponded with the Lamist Mennonite congregation at Amsterdam, sending a list of the names of these Swiss Brethren. Thereupon four delegates of the Amsterdam congregation visited Obersülzen in 1672 and supported the immigrants with a considerable amount of money. Everlin also reports concerning doctrinal differences between the Swiss Brethren and his own congregation. Abstracts of letters written by the Dutch delegates in 1671-1672 and sent from Obersülzen are found in van Braght's Martyrs' Mirror, E 1125-1127.
On 5 May 1682 the Alzey district officials demanded a report on a funeral of the Anabaptists in Obersülzen, at which a large meeting of the same took place, and on their Sunday service, at which preachers coming from other localities functioned. The reply was that after the preacher who had lived among them for twenty years had died, they had been holding a meeting every three or four weeks in a home or in a barn, attended by 50-100 Anabaptists from the surrounding villages. The present preacher (Vermahner) lived at Gerolsheim, and occasionally one came from Rodenbach and Mannheim. Thus the funeral had been attended by many Mennonites from the vicinity. Thereupon all meetings of the Mennonites were prohibited in Obersülzen and at Heppenheim. Then the Mennonites in the Alzey district presented a joint petition to the elector on 7 September 1682 to be permitted to conduct their services according to the concession they had received. The petition was granted. On 5 March 1688 a conference was held at Obersülzen, at which the Strasbourg Articles of 1568 and 1607 with directions and advice for preachers and elders were augmented. The Dutch Naamlijst names the following ministers in the 18th century: Ulrich Burckholder, preacher 1742-c1780, Jacob Hirschler, preacher 1756, elder 1761-1781, Martin Blühm 1760, Gerhard Hutwohl 1769, Johann Burckholder 1784, Johann Lehman, elder 1782. Heinrich Fried (d. 1761), preacher, is named in letters sent from Obersülzen to Amsterdam.
The last lay preachers chosen from the members were Johann Burkholder of Gerolsheim from 1838, Heinrich Herstein of Obersülzen from 1845 (also elder), and Daniel Hirschler of Heppenheim from 1853. On 25 September 1859 Johannes Molenaar, pastor of the Monsheim congregation, preached his funeral sermon and assumed the duties of minister in the congregation, which dedicated a new chapel in 1866. From 1862 the Obersülzen congregation was officially a branch of the Monsheim congregation. In 1890 the Mennonite residents of Battenburg, who had belonged to the Altleinigen congregation, joined Obersülzen. There were in Obersülzen in 1802, 33 Mennonites, including children, and 66 in 1834. In 1869 it numbered 68 baptized members, in 1888 120, children included, in 1941 about 100, in 1957, 94 baptized members. Formerly the congregation had two meetinghouses; in addition to the one at Obersülzen, which was built in 1806, there was also one in Heppenheim, built in 1783. Now only the one in Obersülzen is used.
Müller, Ernst. Geschichte der Bernischen Täufer. Frauenfeld: Huber, 1895. Reprinted Nieuwkoop : B. de Graaf, 1972:52, 211.
Mennonitische Blätter (1855): 54; (1861): 34 f.
Hoop Scheffer, Jacob Gijsbert de. Inventaris der Archiefstukken berustende bij de Vereenigde Doopsgezinde Gemeente to Amsterdam. 2 v. Amsterdam: Uitgegeven en ten geschenke aangeboden door den Kerkeraad dier Gemeente, 1883-1884:I, Nos. 1248 f., 1405, 1407, 1417.
Braght, Thieleman J. van. Het Bloedigh Tooneel of Martelaers Spiegel der Doops-gesinde of Weereloose Christenen, Die om 't getuygenis van Jesus haren Salighmaker geleden hebben ende gedood zijn van Christi tijd of tot desen tijd toe. Den Tweeden Druk. Amsterdam: Hieronymus Sweerts, ..., 1685. Part II: 827-830
Braght, Thieleman J. van. The Bloody Theatre or Martyrs' Mirror of the Defenseless Christians Who Baptized Only upon Confession of Faith and Who Suffered and Died for the Testimony of Jesus Their Saviour . . . to the Year A.D. 1660. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1951: 1125 f.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon., 4 v. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: III, 288.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 15. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Neff, Christian. "Obersülzen (Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 19 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/O388.html.
APA style: Neff, Christian. (1959). Obersülzen (Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 19 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/O388.html.