In the 16th-18th centuries the Montau congregation belonged to the Frisian Mennonite branch. At a conference held in Montau in 1568 delegates from Danzig, Elbing, the "Kleine Marienburger Werder," Montau, and Thorn resolved to side with the Frisian party in the Netherlands. The first elder was very probably Hilchen Schmidt (Hylke Smit), who was commissioned by the Haarlem congregation in 1588 to depose Quiryn van der Meulen from the office of elder in Danzig.
The date of the building of the first church is not certain. But records show that there was one in 1568. This was a frame building with thatched roof. By 1859 it had become so badly ruined by several floods of the Vistula that it had to be practically rebuilt. The congregation later had two large churches, one in Montau with a small tower and a clock, which was built in 1898, Sister (a deaconess) Marie Schröder having willed a large amount to the congregation for this purpose. It had two stained glass windows. The other church was in Gruppe, without a tower, built in 1865. The congregation had no cemetery. Concerning the membership there are no exact figures before 1789. In the 16th and 17th centuries the congregation must have been rather small, apparently not more than 100 baptized members, but during the 18th century there was a rapid increase. In 1789 the membership (including children), numbered 847; 829 in 1845, 536 in 1917, 375 in 1941 (300 baptized members and 75 children).
For centuries the congregation held to the old doctrines and practices, including nonresistance. The North German law issued on 9 November 1867, threatening to deprive the Mennonites of their old privilege of freedom of military service also confused the congregation in Montau. After much correspondence and several audiences at Berlin, the church council accepted a new church constitution drawn up by Elder Peter Bartel, which permitted members to accept noncombatant service, as offered by the Order of Cabinet of 3 March 1868, but threatened to excommunicate those choosing military service; this was, however, never carried out. The question of military service caused the Obergruppe congregation to split off from the Montau church in 1869; the new group refused to tolerate soldiers as members, whereas the Montau congregation did not exclude such members. In 1920 the breach was healed, and the combined brotherhood was then called the Montau-Gruppe congregation.
A large endowment for ministers' salaries vanished during the inflation of 1923. The members were mostly farmers, though there were also tradesmen and craftsmen among them. In 1939 the congregation had about 400 members, who lived in the neighboring villages and the cities of Graudenz and Neuenburg. Between 1918 and 1939, while the area belonged to Poland, some German members of the congregation were expelled to Germany; other emigrations also took place. Though there were some transfers from other denominations, the membership declined by about one hundred. In 1945 the congregation was dissolved by mass flight westward like all the other Prussian congregations.
"Familienforschung in Westpreußen." Hans-Jürgen Wolf. Web. 29 September 2012. http://www.westpreussen.de.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. III, 162 f.
Hoop Scheffer, Jacob Gijsbert de. Inventaris der Archiefstukken berustende bij de Vereenigde Doopsgezinde Gemeente to Amsterdam, 2 vols. Amsterdam: Uitgegeven en ten geschenke aangeboden door den Kerkeraad dier Gemeente, 1883-1884: v. I: Nos. 1564, 1609, 1647 f., 1652, 1667 f.; v. II: 2626, 2651.
Stobbe, L. Montau-Gruppe. Ein Gedenkblatt an die Besiedlung der Schwetz - Neuenburger Niederlassung. Montau, 1918.
Szper, Felicia. Nederlandsche nederzettingen in West-Pruisen gedurende den poolschen tijd. Enkhuizen : P. Bais, 1913: 139 f., 203, 206.
Wiebe, Herbert. Das Siedlungswerk niederländischer Mennoniten im Weichseltal zwischen Fordon und Weissenberg bis zum Ausgang des 18. Jahrhunderts. Marburg a.d. Lahn : Johann Gottfried Herder-Institut, 1952: 18 ff., 47, 73 ff.
Montau Mennonite Church Elders
|Elder||Years of Service|
|Hans Baltzer (1628-1706)||ca. 1661-1702|
|David Block (1663-1756), preacher from 1714||1738-1756|
|Frans Gerts (d. 1757), preacher 1725||1756-1757|
|Abraham Schroeder (1718-1781), preacher 1754||1758-1781|
|Steffen Kerber (1734-1800), preacher 1767||1781-1800|
|Peter Kerber (1760-1814), preacher 1795||1801-1814|
|Peter Kerber, Jr. (1782-1821), preacher 1801||1814-1818|
|Hans Goerz (1794-1830), preacher 1814||1821-1830|
|Peter Foth (1795-1850), preacher 1826||1830-1850|
|Isaac Kopper (1809-1856), preacher 1826||1850-1856|
|Peter Bartel (1813-1879), preacher 1840||1856-1879|
|Gerhard Kopper (1840-1928), preacher 1871||1881-1925|
|Wilhelm Tyart (1868-1932), preacher 1897 in Gruppe||1926-1932|
|Bernhard Kopper, preacher 1924||1934-1945|
|Nanne van der Zijpp|
Cite This Article
Kopper, Gerhard and Nanne van der Zijpp. "Montau (Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 21 Oct 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Montau_(Kuyavian-Pomeranian_Voivodeship,_Poland)&oldid=90131.
Kopper, Gerhard and Nanne van der Zijpp. (1957). Montau (Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 21 October 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Montau_(Kuyavian-Pomeranian_Voivodeship,_Poland)&oldid=90131.
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