Tchunayev Mennonite Brethren Church (Tchunayev, Omsk Oblast, Russia)
Tchunayev (Chunayev, Tchunaevka) Mennonite Brethren Church, also known as Margenau, was founded in 1899-1900, 15 miles west of Omsk, Siberia, Russia, on the west side of the Irtish River. Approximately 2,700 acres of virgin steppe was purchased from a Kirghiz named Chunayev, by Heinrich and Gerhard Ewert of the Neu-Samara settlement, and Johann F. Matthies, Franz Balzer, and Julius Dick of the Molotschna settlement. These five families are regarded as the Mennonite pioneers of West Siberia.
H. Ewert became the first minister of the congregation and Kornelius Martens the first teacher of a school organized in 1900. During the next four years a number of families from Molotschna, Ignatyevka, and Crimea, including Elder Jacob G. Wiens, joined the Tchunayev church. Under Wiens's leadership branch churches were organized along the Transsiberian Railroad extending approximately 225 miles. Assisting ministers in the early days were Heinrich Ewert, David Janzen, Cornelius Klassen, Johann Friesen, and Wilhelm Giesbrecht. Upon the resignation of Wiens in 1912, Jakob F. Hübert became the elder in June 1913. Headquarters of the congregation now were located in the village of Margenau, Akmolinsk district, 70 miles west of Omsk, where a church building had been erected in 1907. The membership reached 600. Branch congregations were located at Friesenov, Mikhaylovka, Gorkoya, Kremleva, and several other places. Assisting ministers at this time were Jacob H. Wall, Gerhard P. Reimer, Gerhard J. Wiens, and J. J. Regier.
In 1929, because of Communist pressure, Elder Hübert emigrated to Brazil, where he became the founder and elder of the Mennonite Brethren Church at Curitiba, Parana. In 1937 the last minister of the Tchunayev congregation was exiled by the Communists and the church was dissolved. Members of the church scattered to various parts of Europe, Canada, the United States, Paraguay, and Brazil.
Another Mennonite Brethren church in this area, at least in later years, was the Smolyanovka Mennonite Brethren Church, of which Nikolai Siemens was the minister. In 1927 he reported on the life of the church, including a successful evangelistic campaign conducted among the neighboring Russian population in co-operation with the Russian Baptists (Unser Blatt, : 42). Johann Heide, an Mennonite Brethren minister of the Isil’-Kul area, who served as the minister of a Baptist church in the city of Isil’-Kul in the 1920's, reported in 1926 that the church had a membership of 118 and its own meetinghouse (Unser Blatt, : 247). Additional reports about the activities of the Mennonite Brethren congregations in the Omsk region are found in Unser Blatt. In many instances the Mennonite Brethren worshiped jointly with the Mennonites. In 1930 all organized religious activities had to be discontinued since the ministers were exiled and the church building confiscated. (See also Friesenov and Gorkoya Mennonite Brethren Church.) For the latest developments in the religious life in the Omsk settlement, see Omsk Mennonite settlement and Omsk Mennonite Church.
Dirks, Heinrich. Statistik der Mennonitengemeinden in Russland Ende 1905 (Anhang zum Mennonitischen Jahrbuche 1904/05). Gnadenfeld: Dirks, 1905: 56.
Epp, D. H. Adressbüchlein (1913).
Fast, Gerhard. In den Steppen Sibiriens. Rosthern, 1957: 142 ff.
Unruh, A. H. Die Geschichte der Mennoniten-Brüdergemeinde. Winnipeg, 1954: 205 ff.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 690. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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To cite this page:
MLA style: Neufeld, I. G. and Cornelius Krahn. "Tchunayev Mennonite Brethren Church (Tchunayev, Omsk Oblast, Russia)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 23 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/T418.html.
APA style: Neufeld, I. G. and Cornelius Krahn. (1959). Tchunayev Mennonite Brethren Church (Tchunayev, Omsk Oblast, Russia). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/T418.html.