Johannes Molenaar, a German Mennonite minister, was born at Zaandam in Holland, 27 October 1810, spent his youth in Krefeld, Germany, where his father Isaak Molenaar I served the Mennonite congregation as pastor, attended the Gymnasium in Kreuznach, studied theology at the University of Bonn, married Alwine Beindorff, a highly educated woman, poet and composer, in 1836 became preacher of the Mennonite congregation at Monsheim and made his influence felt far beyond the confines of his parish.
With his fellow ministers Jakob Ellenberger of Friedelsheim and Johann Risser of Sembach he was in close fraternal sympathy. Together they compiled a ministers' manual in 1852 and a hymnal in 1854, which latter was principally his work. He drew Albert Knapp of Stuttgart into collaboration. He also worked out a catechism in 1841, which he published in a new edition in 1854 and which in shortened form was still in use in the 1950s in the congregations of the Palatinate and Hesse.
In addition Johannes Molenaar published a collection of sermons, for every Sunday and church holiday, with the title Evangelische Stimmen (1884), and also Andenken an die beiden heiligen Tage der Taufe und der ersten Abendmahlsjeier. He also translated some of the popular writings of his brother-in-law J. de Liefde from the Dutch: Des Christen Einnahme und Ausgabe, for the benefit of the rescue home at Hassloch in the Palatinate, Der Sträfling, and other stories.
Molenaar was active in the founding of the rescue home at Rockenhausen in the Palatinate. He was well acquainted with a number of Protestant ministers, as Ohly, Helferich, and Mallet. W. H. Riehl, author and professor of cultural history, was a frequent guest in his home, and gave him this tribute: "Among the educated preachers of the Mennonites there are, by the way, men before whose scholarship and education the light of many a Catholic and Protestant divine may be as dim as a street light in Westrich." He was also a personal friend of Hermann von Beckerath and Heinrich von Gagern, minister of state.
Johannes Molenaar was an enthusiastic sponsor of the Evangelical Alliance, and took part in their meetings in Berlin (1857) and Geneva (1861). He was also a loyal coworker on the Mennonitische Blätter. His description of a trip in Switzerland is particularly interesting (Menn. Bl., 1861 and 1862).
Molenaar's work at Monsheim was not without its difficulties. In 1838 a part of the congregation, dissatisfied with his preaching, left Monsheim and joined the Ibersheim congregation. In his family life he endured great sorrow. His wife was afflicted with a long nervous illness until her death in 1865. His strength was broken. He had to have an assistant. Three years later, on 19 October 1868 he died. Upon his death Christian Böhmer, a Protestant minister, wrote a warm poem, and a member of his congregation also wrote a poem, Denkmal der Liebe (Monument of Love) which appeared in the Mennonitisches Blätter of 1870, on page 14.
Allgemeine lutherische Kirchenzeitung No. 166, (30 October 1839).
Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1868): 1-5; (1886): 16.
Ellenberger, J. Bilder aus dem Pilgerleben II. n.p., 1783.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. III, 145.
Riehl, W. H. Die Pfälzer, Ein rheinisches Volksbild. Stuttgart, 1858: 375.
Cite This Article
Neff, Christian. "Molenaar, Johannes (1810-1868)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 3 May 2016. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Molenaar,_Johannes_(1810-1868)&oldid=92897.
Neff, Christian. (1957). Molenaar, Johannes (1810-1868). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 3 May 2016, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Molenaar,_Johannes_(1810-1868)&oldid=92897.
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