Burkholder, Peter (1783-1846)

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Peter Burkholder was a prominent Mennonite bishop in Virginia in the first half of the 19th century, the son of Peter and Margaret Huber Burkholder of the first generation of Burkholders in this country. He was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania on 27 August 1783, and died 24 December 1846. He was buried in the Weaver's cemetery. In 1790 the family migrated to the Shenandoah Valley and located in Dale Enterprise in Rockingham County, Virginia. Peter was married to Elisabeth Coffman (24 February 1775-26 April 1846) on 11 October 1803, to which union nine children were born.

Peter Burkholder was ordained to the ministry in the Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church) in 1805 at the age of 21. About 32 years later he was ordained to the office of bishop. He was an outstanding and progressive leader among the Mennonites of Virginia. He defended pouring against immersion as being the Scriptural mode of baptism in a booklet entitled Eine Verhandlung von der äusserlichen Wasser-Taufe (Harrisonburg, 1816, English edition in 1882 at Dale Enterprise, VA). He took his stand with the church in 1825 when a division was imminent. He encouraged the expansion of the church by preaching at outposts, such as Mount Clinton and Chimney Rocks. His delivery was marked with pathos. Joseph Funk wrote of him as "our beloved pastor." -- HAB

In 1837 a book appeared at Winchester, Virginia, with the following lengthy title: The Confession of Faith of the Christians known by the name of Mennonites, in Thirty-Three Articles; with a short Extract from their Catechism. Translated from the German and accompanied with notes. To which is added an Introduction. Also, Nine Reflections, from different Passages of the Scriptures, Illustrative of the Confession, Faith and Practice; By Peter Burkholder, Pastor of the Church of the Mennonites; Written by him in the German Language, and from his manuscript translated, together with the foregoing Articles, by Joseph Funk. The Confession is the P. J. Twisck 33 Articles found in the Martyrs' Mirror. The Introduction of 27 pages is an independent writing, designed "to adduce some testimony to prove the antiquity of our religious confession of faith and from Dr. Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History." It has been claimed that Peter Burkholder "compiled the confession," i.e., arranged for its publication in English. However, since everything which he wrote was translated from the German by Joseph Funk, as is clearly stated on the title page of the Nine Reflections, and as is stated of the additional material at the end of the book, including "Of the Administration of Baptism" (pp. 405-14), "Of the Mode and Practice of the Administration of Baptism" (414-17), and "On Predestination" (435-61), and since it is not indicated that the Introduction was translated, it is most likely that Joseph Funk, and not Peter Burkholder, was the author of the Introduction, the translator of all the material in the book, and the compiler of the volume. The Treatise on Predestination was reprinted as an appendage to Christian Conversation on Saving Faith (Lancaster, 1857) and in all succeeding reprints of the same. The "Extract from the Catechism" which appears on pp. 424-434 is not by Burkholder, but a translation of Kurze Unterweisung aus der Schrift, first published in 1690 in Danzig, and added to the Christliches Gemütsgespräch in its first (1769) American edition and all later German and English editions -- HSB.


Blosser, Abraham. "Additional Statistics of the Ancestry and Family of the Aforenamed Peter Burkholder," A Treatise on Baptism and the Lord’s Supper; Written by Bish. Peter Burkholder in the Year 1815 in the German Language and Translated into the English Language and Printed by Abraham Blosser. Dale Enterprise, VA, 1882: 59-61.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 303.

"Peter Burkholder ." SAGA (Swiss Anabaptist Genealogical Association) Genealogical Website. Accessed 6 July 2007 <http://www.saga-omii.com/tng/getperson.php?personID=I16668&tree=hostetlr>

Author(s) Harry A. Brunk
Harold S. Bender
Date Published 1953

Cite This Article

MLA style

Brunk, Harry A. and Harold S. Bender. "Burkholder, Peter (1783-1846)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 3 Oct 2022. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Burkholder,_Peter_(1783-1846)&oldid=172526.

APA style

Brunk, Harry A. and Harold S. Bender. (1953). Burkholder, Peter (1783-1846). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 3 October 2022, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Burkholder,_Peter_(1783-1846)&oldid=172526.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, pp. 477-478. All rights reserved.

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