Derksen, David D. (1881-1964)

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David D. Derksen: minister; was born in Fischau, Molotschna Mennonite Settlement, South Russia, on 30 March 1881. His parents were David Doerksen (1841-1920), and Katharina (Mandtler) Derksen (1851-1930). He was the fifth child of 11. David married Susanna Adrian on 26 September 1902 in Fischau, Molotschna in the Flemish Lichtenauer Mennonite Church. Susan was born on 28 September 1880 in Fischau, Molotschna, and died on 5 November 1956 in Boissevain, Manitoba, Canada. They had eleven children, seven of whom survived infancy. Katharina, Anna, David, Susanna, Helena, Henry, and Peter. David died in Boissevain, Manitoba on 27 November 1964, aged 83 years.

David attended attended the village school in Fischau, Molotschna, and then the Ohrloff Zentralschule, 1894-1897. He had a conversion experience in 1896. He became a village school teacher in 1897. He was baptized and became a member Lichtenau Mennonite Church (part of the "Grosse Gemeinde") in 1901.

After his marriage to Susanna, David and Susanna lived and farmed with David's parents. He struggled with smoking and finally quit entirely in 1905. He felt called to begin a Bible study group in 1906. He was elected as a preacher in the Lichtenau Mennonite Church on 23 December 1906 (aged 25 years) and was ordained as a preacher on Easter, 22 April 1907 by Ältester Jakob Töws.

Derksen felt he needed some biblical training in order to be an effective church worker. Therefore, he studied in Berlin, Germany, at the Allianz Bibleschule, 1909-1910 academic year. Upon his return he struggled to fit into the church hierarchy at Lichtenau Church. So in 1911 he left the congregation because he felt the leadership were all old and not capable of leading this large congregation; it was disorderly and directionless. The preachers were controlled by the wealthy members. Representatives tried to convince him to return at the end of December 1911 but were unsuccessful. He decided to attend the Allianz church in Tiege.

In November 1912, upon the request of the Allianz Church in Lichtfelde, Molotschna, David made a trip to preach in Köppental, Am Trakt. Also, around 1912, the Mennonite Brethren built a meeting house in Tiege, Molotschna. He also preached in Fischau and Tiegenhagen. He was gradually making the transition to the Mennonite Brethren Church.

In 1914 Derksen made a trip to Moscow with a delegation to understand what the policy was for alternative service. One change due to World War I was that no preaching was allowed in the German-language, only reading the Bible, but he preached in the German-language anyway. He visited alternative service workers in Crimea in 1916. He began his own alternative service in the Forsteidienst in Neu-Berdjansk and later at Kozan on the Volga in November 1916. He served a total of one year and returned home in 1917, because he was a preacher, on the payment of a fee of 400 Rubel.

After the world war and civil war, the Derksen family immigrated to Canada, arriving on 10 January 1927 on the SS Montcalm, St. John, New Brunswick, and settling first in Winkler, Manitoba. In 1928 they moved to Boissevain, Manitoba. Here a new Mennonite Brethren congregation was founded, Whitewater Mennonite Brethren Church (later Boissevain Mennonite Brethren Church). He was elected leader of this congregation in September 1928 and served until his wife's death in 1956.

During these years he was often absent, doing evangelistic and Christian renewal work in western Canada, something he had already begun in 1912 in Russia. He usually began this work soon after harvesting was completed in the autumn, be home for Christmas, and then leave again after New Year, until seeding time. He ministered in nearly every Mennonite Brethren church from Manitoba to the West Coast. Most of this ministry was done in the 1930s and 1940s.

Derksen managed the challenging transition from serving in the "Grosse Gemeinde" Flemish congregation, then the Allianz congregations, and finally the Mennonite Brethren congregations. His contribution was in church work, both as a congregational leader and as an itinerate evangelistic preacher.


Unpublished memoir by David Derksen.

Family sources.

Author(s) Bert Friesen
Date Published March 2014

Cite This Article

MLA style

Friesen, Bert. "Derksen, David D. (1881-1964)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. March 2014. Web. 10 Aug 2022.,_David_D._(1881-1964)&oldid=116159.

APA style

Friesen, Bert. (March 2014). Derksen, David D. (1881-1964). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 10 August 2022, from,_David_D._(1881-1964)&oldid=116159.

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