Gnadenfeld Mennonite Church was located in the province of Taurida, South Russia, about 60 miles from the seaport at Berdyansk on the Sea of Asov. In 1835 the congregation as a whole immigrated to Russia from the province of Brandenburg, Prussia, under the leadership of Elder Wilhelm Lange. From the very beginning the congregation was known for its advanced spiritual life. During the middle of the last century the Gnadenfeld congregation became the center of a revival movement that culminated in the founding of the Mennonite Brethren Church in 1860.
The meetinghouse was built in 1854 and was one of the finest older Mennonite churches in the Molotschna settlement with a seating capacity of 500. In 1895 it installed a pipe organ, the only one in a Mennonite church in Russia. The membership was around 300, mostly from the village of Gnadenfeld and some surrounding villages. Prominent elders were Wilhelm Lange, Friedrich Lange, August Lenzmann, Heinrich Dirks, Sr., the first missionary of the Russian Mennonites, Gerhard Nickel, and Heinrich Dirks, Jr.
In 1887 the membership numbered 405 baptized members. The Berdyansk congregation was a subsidiary of the Gnadenfeld Mennonite Church. The interest in education and Christian work was demonstrated by the congregation in many ways. Fifteen of its members went abroad for theological training or a higher education; among them were Heinrich Dirks, father and son, Heinrich Franz, Hermann Lenzmann, W. Neufeld, Abr. Klassen, and Peter Nachtigall.
In 1933, after arresting the last minister, the Bolshevik authorities closed the church and so the existence of the congregation was brought to an end.
Cite This Article
Goerz, Heinrich. "Gnadenfeld Mennonite Church (Gnadenfeld, Molotschna Mennonite settlement, Zaporizhia Oblast, Ukraine)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 14 Feb 2016. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Gnadenfeld_Mennonite_Church_(Gnadenfeld,_Molotschna_Mennonite_settlement,_Zaporizhia_Oblast,_Ukraine)&oldid=81221.
Goerz, Heinrich. (1956). Gnadenfeld Mennonite Church (Gnadenfeld, Molotschna Mennonite settlement, Zaporizhia Oblast, Ukraine). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 14 February 2016, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Gnadenfeld_Mennonite_Church_(Gnadenfeld,_Molotschna_Mennonite_settlement,_Zaporizhia_Oblast,_Ukraine)&oldid=81221.
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