Deyevka Mennonite Church (Orenburg Oblast, Russia)
The Deyevka Mennonite Church, located in the Orenburg settlement of Russia, was a subsidiary of the Chortitza Mennonite Church in the Ukraine, founded in 1894. Abram Olfert of Kanzerovka was chosen as the first minister. The elder of Neu-Samara performed the functions of elder until 16 August 1899, when Abram Penner of Nikolaevka was ordained to that office. After that time the congregation was independent, but remained in close contact with the mother church.
One of the outstanding ministers was the aged Jakob Rempel, who was always ready to encourage the downhearted and calm the impulsive. He stood firmly on the basis of the unity of all God's children. The democratic, fraternal attitude of the older ministers to the younger newly ordained ones was also a good influence in the congregation. Thus the church grew until 1907.
At that time discord over the location of the proposed Zentralschule arose between the elder with two or three ministers on one hand, and the remaining ministers on the other hand, which soon spread to the congregation. After about three years a large part of the membership demanded the withdrawal of Elder Penner from active service. He therefore retired, but kept the title of elder. Johann Bärgmann of Nikolaevka served the Deyevka congregation as elder about two years, until Heinrich Rempel was chosen to that office. Rempel served for about 12 years (1911-1923?) until his death by tuberculosis. During this period came the revival through the agency of J. J. Peters.
On 29 March 1925 Isaak Krahn was chosen to the office of elder. He was a teacher by profession, and had served as minister since 1911, was very talented and strong of will. By that time the Red government was already a power to be reckoned with. Church organization became weaker and functioned with difficulty. Elder Krahn was strongly opposed to emigration. In 1930 he was banished to the Solovetski Islands in the White Sea for a period of 10 years. It is thought that he survived the experience, but exact information is lacking.
Many of the members of the congregation went through similar experiences; some were released on certain conditions. Worship services ceased. Only pastoral care could be continued to a certain degree in secret. Dietrich Lepp of Deyevka was apparently an exception, for a letter of 1935 indicated that people were surprised that he was still performing full ministerial service (baptism and communion) for the congregation of Deyevka. But two years later he himself wrote that he had changed his address, but could not reveal the reason. He had been compelled to work very hard, and had broken two ribs by carrying a heavy load. As a consequence of this accident he died in 1939 at the age of 82.
Until 1926 the congregation at Deyevka had been served by about 25 ordained brethren. Three had come to the place as ordained ministers; the others were chosen there. Six were lost through death, three by moving away, and two by change of church membership. The congregation had a membership of about 1,300.
The relations between the Deyevka Mennonite Church and the Mennonite Brethren left much to be desired but gradually improved, especially during the Soviet rule.
Dyck, Peter P. Orenburg am Ural: die Geschichte einer mennonitischen Ansiedlung in Russland. Clearbrook, B.C.: Christian Book Store, 1951: 60-66.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: I, 456.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 49. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Dyck, Peter P. "Deyevka Mennonite Church (Orenburg Oblast, Russia)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 18 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/deyevka_mennonite_church_orenburg_oblast_russia.
APA style: Dyck, Peter P. (1956). Deyevka Mennonite Church (Orenburg Oblast, Russia). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/deyevka_mennonite_church_orenburg_oblast_russia.