When Jacob was three his parents, Jacob M. and Mary (Ruby) Bender moved across the road into South Easthope Township, where Jacob R. spent the rest of his life. His father, Jacob M. served as deacon, minister, and bishop 1871-1914 in the East Zorra Amish Mennonite Church. Therefore Jacob R. grew up in a home that was special in the community. His father modeled Christian leadership and Christian living that affected Jacob R. deeply.
Jacob R. was baptized in 1892 at age 17. He hoped to attend high school and become a teacher. But because this was not a suitable ambition for a young Amishman, he acquired his own education by studying the Bible and history. On 29 September 1910, at age 35, Jacob R. married (Veronica) Fannie Schwartzentruber; they parented six children.
On 22 October 1914 Jacob R. was ordained to serve as a minister, without the usual pattern of serving as a deacon first. At the same time Deacon Daniel S. Iutzi was also ordained as a minister. In 1917 these two men were in the lot together to choose the next bishop. Most people thought Bender would be chosen because he was seen as a Bible scholar, theologian and visionary, but the lot fell on Iutzi. They worked together as a very effective team in the congregation and conference for over 30 years.
Iutzi and Bender complemented each other even though their styles were considerably different. Dan S. Iutzi's cautious leadership enabled the acceptance of new innovations, many of them initiated by Jacob R. Bender.
As a man of vision, Jacob R. Bender met with other Mennonite leaders during World War I to remind the Canadian government of previous promises for exemption from military services, and then helped found the Non-Resistant Relief Organization of Ontario, 1917; Sunday School Conference, 1918; Young People's Bible Meetings, 1920; Ontario Amish Mennonite Conference (OAMC), 1924; English preaching, 1931; Winter Bible School, 1932; and Summer Bible School, 1940.
Bender was involved in the Sunday School Conference that was organized before the Ontario Amish Mennonite Conference. Jacob R. was speaker at the conference many times, did detailed organizational work to help things flow well, and served on the program committee and speakers' committee.
From 1925-1929 Jacob R. served as the secretary or assistant secretary of the Ontario Amish Mennonite Conference, and throughout his lifetime was active on other committees of Conference, including inter Mennonite relationships. Jacob R. helped formulate many resolutions for OAMC. Those resolutions that were approved did not bind the congregations – they were merely guidelines. Thus the Amish congregations maintained their strong congregational autonomy.
Jacob R. developed course outlines, and taught many history classes for Winter Bible School He was extremely well organized, grounded his teaching and preaching with scripture, but did not force others to agree. Bender's keen appreciation for community traditions and lifestyle helped the Amish Mennonite church through much change.
Laurence, Hugh and Lorraine Roth. Daniel S. Iutzi Jacob R. Bender Servants of God and the Church. Waterloo, ON: Historical Committee of the Western Ontario Mennonite Conference, 1984.
Lichti, Fred. A History of the East Zorra Amish Mennonite Church 1837-1977. Tavistock, ON: The Church, 1977.
|Date Published||January 2006|
 Cite This Article
Zehr, Glenn. "Bender, Jacob R. (1875-1947)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. January 2006. Web. 17 Mar 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Bender,_Jacob_R._(1875-1947)&oldid=91040.
Zehr, Glenn. (January 2006). Bender, Jacob R. (1875-1947). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 17 March 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Bender,_Jacob_R._(1875-1947)&oldid=91040.
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