Regier, Cornelius (1743-1794)
Cornelius Regier: minister and elder; born 17 November 1743 in Rosenort, Prussia, son of Peter Regier and Margaretha Andres (b. 1718). Cornelius married Margaretha von Bergen (22 September 1736, Gross Lichtenau, Prussia - 11 December 1794, Heubuden, Prussia) on 24 August 1764. She was the daughter of Elder Gerhard von Bergen (1704-1771) and Maria (Claassen) von Bergen (1704-1776). Cornelius and Margaretha had at least four children: Hermann, Gerhard, Abraham (b. 1774) and Peter (b. 1776). Cornelius died 30 May 1794 in Chortitza, Chortitza Colony, South Russia, where he was buried.
Cornelius became a minister in 1765 and succeeded his father-in-law Gerhard von Bergen in 1771 as elder of the Heubuden Mennonite Church. Concerning his inner life there is information in his correspondence with Isaak van Dühren, the minister of the Danzig Frisian Mennonite congregation.
According to the church record, Cornelius Regier was loved by the Heubuden congregation; throughout his life his influence was conciliatory. By preaching in various churches he sought to bridge over the differences between the Frisian and the Flemish Mennonites. He maintained close contact with the Danzig congregation. The Danzig church archives show that his advice was frequently asked in church matters. His close connection with the Danzig Flemish congregation is also indicated by the fact that in 1780 he ordained Peter Epp as elder and in 1790 Jacob de Veer. His sermons as a guest preacher were no doubt widely announced and must certainly have strengthened the bonds between the elders of the various congregations.
Cornelius Regier was an elder in an age filled with disturbance for West Prussia. During his eldership the Werder was transferred from Poland to Prussia (1772). For their exemption from the bearing of arms (see Nonresistance) the Mennonites had to pay 5,000 talers annually from 1 June 1773 for the military training school at Culm. A conference (1775) presented a petition to the King in Berlin for the confirmation of the privileges acquired from the rulers of Poland and for the remission of fees to the local Catholic and Protestant congregations. In 1788 the "Wollner" religious edict was passed which made a distinction between the principal creeds and the remaining religious groups, the Mennonites being counted with the latter, which, though tolerated, were subject to restrictions. Further restrictions were caused by the edict of 30 July 1789, which decreed that the Mennonite landowners must pay certain fees to the Catholic and Protestant clergy, and limited their acquisition of land. Under such conditions Mennonite immigration to Russia set in. For the families of the Gross-Werder the congregation of Danzig and Elbing-Ellerwald, 152 families with 919 persons, Cornelius Regier preached the farewell sermon in the Rosenort Mennonite Church.
The young Russian congregations had serious difficulty in regulating their church life, and urgently wanted an elder from West Prussia to come to help them. Cornelius Regier was chosen for the task (Peter Epp, who was first chosen, died during preparations for the journey.) On 14 March he and Cornelius Warkentin, a minister of Rosenort, began the perilous journey to Russia, and on 29 April arrived at Chortitza. Cornelius Regier at once began his work of unification. After weeks, during which he preached eight times, he succeeded in restoring peace. Then a fatal illness, probably typhus, struck Regier. Before he died he ordained Warkentin as elder, and asked him to preach a simple funeral sermon for him on Romans 14: 7-8. His funeral was attended by Baron von Brackel, the director of the Chortitza settlement. A monument was erected 100 years later.
GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 4.19 ed. Fresno, CA: California Mennonite Historical Society, 2005: #19815.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. III, 445 f.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 273-274. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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APA style: Regier, Otto and Richard D. Thiessen. (November 2012). Regier, Cornelius (1743-1794). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/R44582.html.