Stundism, a religious movement caused by the pietistic revival of the 19th century among the German and Russian population of the Ukraine which resulted in the establishment of a number of Protestant churches in Russia, particularly the Baptists and the Evangelical Christians. Stundism can be traced directly to leaders of Pietism who transplanted the practice of private devotional meetings and Bible study from Germany and England to the German settlements in Russia and adherents of the Russian Orthodox Church. The word "Stundism" comes from the German "Stunde," meaning "hour (for worship and fellowship)."
Pietistic influences reached Russian circles in the early 19th century through Jung-Stilling, Juliane von Krüdener, Alexander I, A. Bengel, and later through numerous individuals who traveled extensively in Russia in the interest of proclaiming the Gospel or who were living in German communities. The Presbyterian John Melville did evangelistic work in Russia after 1823. Through his work Kasha Yagob, who became an effective evangelist, was won for the Gospel. Johann Bonekemper transplanted the method of meeting for an "hour" (Stunde) of Bible study, a practice of the Württemberg Pietists, to Russia. These devotional and Bible study meetings conducted in the German settlements were the means of the conversion of Ivan Onyshchenko and Michael Ratushny, from Osnova near the German villages of Rohrbach and Worms of the Odessa area, where Bonekemper conducted pietistic Bible studies. Thus the revival and the method of Bible study were transplanted to the Russian population and "Stundism" originated. Similarly the activities of Eduard Wüst circa 1845 near Berdyansk affected German settlements including the Mennonites, and from them this practice and movement was transplanted to the Russian population.
A. V. Karev strongly emphasizes the significance of the Mennonites, particularly the Mennonite Brethren, in the origin of the Baptist movement in Russia. Gerhard Wieler, a Mennonite Brethren (MB) preacher of Liebenau, Molotschna settlement, won some followers (Stundists) in the neighboring village of Ostrikove. During the winter of 1863-64 Wieler began to baptize Russian believers by immersion, thus introducing this mode of baptism and the shift among the Russian believers from Stundism to a Baptist organization. In 1869 Abraham Unger, also an MB preacher, baptized some Russians in Old Danzig (Ukraine), among whom was Ephrim Cimbal, who in turn baptized Michael Ratushny and Alexander Kapustyana. These three became the chief promoters of Stundism and the Baptist movement among the Russian population of the Ukraine. In 1869 J. G. Oncken, a German Baptist, organized the first Baptist church of the Ukraine in Old and New Danzig. The contact between the Mennonite Brethren and the Russian Baptists remained intimate. In 1884 Johann Wieler called the meeting of the Baptists at which a union of Russian Baptists was organized, and served as its chairman until 1886, when he left for Rumania.
Another source of the evangelical movement in Russia was Lord Radstock, an Englishman who started a tract mission in St. Petersburg in 1875, primarily among the aristocracy. Outstanding leaders among them were Pashkov and Korff. Although this movement in Northern Russia originally had little to do with the Mennonites, later contacts were established through such men as Jakob Kroeker. The Mennonite publishing enterprise "Raduga" (Rainbow), Halbstadt, South Russia, had a branch in St. Petersburg which distributed Russian Bibles and religious literature. After the Revolution in 1917, Jakob Kroeker established a mission organization in Wernigerode a. H., Germany, "Licht im Osten" (Light in the East), through which thousands of Russian Bibles and other devotional literature were distributed in Soviet Russia and other Slavic countries. In the Bible school of this organization, many young men and women were trained for evangelistic work among the Slavs. Some actually went to Russia. This work was born during World War I when thousands of Russian prisoners of war were reached with the Gospel through evangelism in the prisoner of war camps in Germany. The returning Protestant Christians who had been thus reached strengthened the evangelical movement in Russia. Licht im Osten, operated to some extent by Mennonites, played a very significant role in the promotion of this work until the Iron Curtain closed the contact with the West.
Thus Stundism was the forerunner of the present-day Evangelical-Baptist churches in the Russian area. Under the influence of the Baptist movement through the work of J. G. Oncken and others, Stundism accepted baptism by immersion as the sole form, and by doing so the movement became Baptist and Evangelical Christian, with the exception of some minor Pentecostal groups and the Adventists. Since 1943 they have all been united in the All-Union Council of Evangelical Christian Baptists with headquarters in Moscow. Sectarian groups, such as the Molokans, etc., also played a significant role in the spread of the movement. Jakov Zhidkov, chairman of the All-Union, was of Molokan background.
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Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: v. IV.
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Karev, A. V. "The Russian Evangelical-Baptist Movement." (Russian) Bratsky Vestnik (Moscow, 1957): No. 3, 5-51.
Kargel, J. G. Zwischen den Enden der Erde. Wernigerode, 1928.
Krahn, Cornelius. "Russian Baptists and Mennonites." Mennonite Life XI (July 1956): 99.
Kroeker, Maria. Ein reiches Leben. Wüstenrot, 1949.
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Warns, Johannes. Russland und das Evangelium. Bilder aus der evangelischen Bewegung des sogenannten Stundismus. Kassel.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 649-650. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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