Pauls, Jacob H. (1915-2010)

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Jacob H. Pauls: minister, farmer, and missionary; born 4 August 1915 to Heinrich Pauls (1882-1918) and Helena (Unger) Pauls (1882-1918) in the village of Grigoryevka, Naumenko Mennonite Settlement, South Russia, the sixth of seven children. On 2 August 1936, he married Maria "Mary" Schmidt (22 September 1916, Osler, Saskatchewan – 9 July 2005, Warman, Saskatchewan), daughter of Johann Schmidt and Helena (Driedger) Schmidt. They had 10 children, of which one died in infancy. He died on 21 May 2010 at the age of 94 years in Warman, Saskatchewan and is buried at the Osler Mennonite Church Cemetery in Osler, Saskatchewan.

At the age of three, Jacob lost his mother to tuberculosis, and ten days later, his father to influenza. Three sisters also died before Jacob was six years old. He and his eleven year old sister, Maria, were adopted by their maternal grandparents, Peter and Helena (Nikkel) Unger. Jacob took three years of German schooling at the Grigoryevka Mennonite village school.

In September 1925, at the age of ten, Jacob emigrated from Russia with his Unger grandparents and 17 year old sister, Maria. They were detained for five weeks in Southampton, England by health authorities, fearing Jacob had trachoma. The grandparents continued on to Canada leaving Jacob and Maria behind. On 1 November Jacob and his teenage sister, Maria, arrived in Quebec City having sailed unaccompanied on the S. S. Melita. Four days later they arrived by train in Osler, Saskatchewan, and were located on the farm of Cornelius M. Driedger where they lived and worked. Maria, herself a minor, became the unofficial guardian of 11 year old Jacob. Jacob attended the local elementary school for four years.

Jacob worked on the Driedger farm until 1936 when he married Mary Schmidt. They moved into a very modest house located on 80 acres (32.374 ha.) near the Driedger farm. By 1938 at the age of 23, the Osler Mennonite Church called Jacob to be their minister. He was ordained by Ältester David Toews on 9 August. For two years Jacob studied at the Rosthern Bible School traveling to Rosthern by train to study during the week and returning to Osler for the weekend to preach and to see his young family.

Jacob and Mary practiced mixed farming on 320 acres (129.497 ha.). Gradually most of their income would come from selling eggs commercially. All nine helped with gardening, feeding chickens, cleaning eggs and separating cream from the milk.

For 25 years, from 1938 to 1963, Jacob received an honorarium averaging $500 a year to minister in a thriving church. Jacob’s first crisis was to counsel young men as they were called up to register for service in the Canadian Army after 1939. A second crisis occurred ten years later when a traveling evangelist, Leo Janz, set up a tent near Osler threatening to split the membership. But unity and stability prevailed. Jacob was never dogmatic and in 1951 when the Lobes, a Lutheran family, moved into the community they were accepted as members without rebaptism. Jacob preached in German for most of his ministry but towards the end of his ministry introduced English. The transition to English was seamless and without conflict. If Jacob had a theological default position, it would surely be Die Liebe Gottes (the love of God). It seemed that many sermons on any given topic would gravitate to God’s unending love. As a child when Jacob was orphaned, he was deprived of parental love. But in his life as a pastor, he distributed the message of love freely.

If Jacob had a fault it might have come, when after 25 years of ministry, he found it difficult to hand over pastoral duties to a new generation of salaried ministers. Soon that was forgotten and Jacob and Mary turned their skills to church planting and missionary work. Jacob helped found and pastor the Warman Mennonite Church (1964-1970). After several years of itinerant preaching, Jacob and Maria served as missionaries in Mexico (1973-1974) and in Port Rowan, Ontario (1977-1979). In both places he worked with Low German speaking Mennonites of Old Colony background. Jacob was much appreciated because of his upbeat personality, his fluency in Low German and his theology of love and acceptance.

Late in his life as Jacob was reflecting on his life, he regretted that he had placed the church ahead of his family. He mused that while God had always been first, his family had often been his third priority. He would change that if he could do that again.


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Author(s) Jake Buhler
Date Published April 2014

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Buhler, Jake. "Pauls, Jacob H. (1915-2010)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. April 2014. Web. 4 Aug 2021.,_Jacob_H._(1915-2010)&oldid=155897.

APA style

Buhler, Jake. (April 2014). Pauls, Jacob H. (1915-2010). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 4 August 2021, from,_Jacob_H._(1915-2010)&oldid=155897.

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