Peters, Isaak (1826-1911)

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Isaak Peters: a Mennonite teacher at Fürstenau, Molotschna Mennonite settlement, and preacher (ordained 1866) and elder (1867) in the Pordenau con­gregation; was born 1 December 1826 in Fürstenau, Molotschna Mennonite settlement, the fifth child of Jacob A. Peters (1791-1837) and Sarah (Toews) Peters (1793-1856). He was married on 11 December 1849 to Anna Steingardt (27 September 1825, Pordenau, Molotschna, South Russia – 15 December 1902, Henderson, Nebraska, USA), daughter of Heinrich H. Steingardt (1793-1879) and Judith (Enns) Steingardt (1792-1863). Isaak and Anna had three children.  Isaak died 10 December 1911 in Henderson, Nebraska, USA.

Peter M. Friesen, who was his pupil, describes him as a "stern and ironclad 'old Mennonite' in all questions of teaching and doctrine relating to society and the state, but also a man who realizes the value of a book, especially of historical and theological works, and is an authority on Mennonite history whose equal we have not yet met." As the elder of the Pordenau congregation "he preached penitence and exercised church discipline in the strictest Mennon­ite sense." He knew "what a new spiritual life through repentance and the new birth is, and recog­nized all the evangelical means to that end: live preaching, indoctrination of youth, study of the Bible, and congregational prayer meetings." His strict and rigorous requirements led to a division in the congregation; with his followers he had to with­draw and shortly before his emigration he was expelled from the congregation. He had become a teacher in Fürstenau in 1850.

Isaak Peters was a vigorous opponent of baptism by immersion. The Bible, he asserted, speaks of three kinds of baptism: water baptism, spirit bap­tism, and blood baptism. Water and spirit baptism belong together. He who has received water bap­tism without spirit baptism has not yet any part in the blood baptism of Jesus, which alone can save, according to I John 1:7. John the Baptist also said: "I baptize you with water," not in water. Likewise Peters rejected the doctrine of the millennium. He held fast to the doctrine of nonresistance and thus became a leader in the emigration of the 1870s. Because of his open advocacy of emigration he was expelled from the country by the government.

In January 1874 he moved to America, settling near Henderson, Nebraska. There he and a small group of the Pordenau congregation joined the Bethesda Mennonite Church, which chose him as elder. Since he was unable to carry out the way of life he thought necessary, which included stricter require­ments for a separated life as evidence of regenera­tion, he withdrew from Bethesda with a minority of the congregation in 1880. This was the origin of the Ebenezer Mennonite Church in Henderson, or­ganized in 1882, which, together with the Brudertaler Church of Mountain Lake, Minnesota in 1889 formed a new branch of the Mennonites, known at first as the Conference of the United Mennonite Brethren of North America, then as the Defenseless Mennonite Brethren in Christ of North America, and since 1937 as the Evangelical Mennonite Brethren (EMB). Isaak Peters was a leader in this move and in the EMB church until he was compelled by ill health to withdraw from active work. He was elder at Ebenezer until 1892.

Peters was a competent writer, and wrote for a number of Mennonite periodicals. He was well versed in the writings of Menno Simons and other older Mennonite writers. Among his literary prod­ucts are the translation of Georg Hansen's Ein Fundamentbuch  der christlichen  Lehre from  the original Dutch into German (335 pp.) (Elkhart, 1893). He wrote Eine Beleuchtung der Schriften Mennos, a pamphlet of 40 pages; Die Christliche Wassertaufe, of 16 pages, and Die Aujerstehung, 9 pages, all printed at Elkhart.


Epp, Jacob. "Aeltester Isaak Peters." Bundesbote-Kalender (1912): 26.

Friesen, Peter M. Die Alt-Evangelische Mennonitische Brüderschaft in Russland (1789-1910) im Rahmen der mennonitischen Gesamtgeschichte. Halbstadt: Verlagsgesellschaft "Raduga", 1911: II, 73 el passim.

GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 5.00 ed. Fresno, CA: California Mennonite Historical Society, 2006: 64259.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. III, 353 ff.

A Historical Sketch of the Churches of the Evangelical Mennonite Brethren. Rosthern, 1939.

Author(s) H. F Epp
Date Published 1959

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Epp, H. F. "Peters, Isaak (1826-1911)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 22 May 2024.,_Isaak_(1826-1911)&oldid=145991.

APA style

Epp, H. F. (1959). Peters, Isaak (1826-1911). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 May 2024, from,_Isaak_(1826-1911)&oldid=145991.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 153-154. All rights reserved.

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