Steiner, Ulrich (1806-1877)

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Ulrich Steiner: an elder of the Langnau congregation in Emmental, canton of Bern, Switz­erland; born near Trachselwald on 6 September 1806. Later his father, Peter Steiner, bought a farm in the Lauperswil community, which Ulrich took over after his father's death. His ancestors had belonged to the liberal (?) group of Anabaptists in the Emmental while persecution was still raging. His par­ents did not join until in their later years. Ulrich attended catechetical instruction in the Reformed church at Trachselwald. When his parents joined the Mennonites he also began to attend their meet­ings, and at the age of nineteen he also joined the Mennonite congregation. Five years later he was chosen as preacher. In 1834 he married Elisabeth Wüthrich of Trub. In the following year he was ordained elder. This was soon after the schism in the Emmental congregation in 1835 caused by the Neutäufer. He wrote about these difficulties in his booklet Angenehme Stunden in Zion. The light of the rising sun with its golden beams seemed to him a symbol of the old church, since it had through all the storms of persecution shone as a bright light, whereas he saw as a symbol of the Neutäufer (or Fröhlichianer) the light of the full moon.

In accord with the Anabaptist regulation of 1823 only the children of Anabaptists were allowed to join the Mennonites, and they were not to make any proselytes. But since others also came to Steiner's baptismal instruction he was accused by the Re­formed pastor of proselyting and was imprisoned for several days. On another occasion he was fined on a similar charge. He presented a petition of com­plaint to the authorities, whereupon he was released.

Steiner's effectiveness in the brotherhood was richly blessed. His preaching was heart-winning, edifying, earnest, but gentle. Through his friendly nature he won many hearts. "Steiner Uli" was re­spected and loved far beyond the borders of his own brotherhood. He kept up an active correspondence with the Swiss Mennonites in America, especially with the Sonnenberg congregation in Wayne Coun­ty, Ohio. His booklet Angenehme Stunden in Zion was also widely spread in America. A poem of his published in the Gemeinde Kalender (1931) de­scribes the state of those who have finished their course with blessing.

After a prolonged illness, Ulrich Steiner died on 10 July 1877. At his grave the Reformed pastor of Lauperswil recalled how much he had learned and received from this mature father in Christ.


Geiser, Samuel. Die Taufgesinnten-Gemeinden : eine Kurzgefasste Darstellung der wichtigsten Ereignisse des Täufertums. Karlsruhe : H. Schneider, [1931].

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. IV, 242.

Mennonitischer Gemeinde-Kalender (1906): picture of him alone; (1931): 432, picture of Ulrich Steiner with his wife.

Author(s) Samuel Geiser
Date Published 1959

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MLA style

Geiser, Samuel. "Steiner, Ulrich (1806-1877)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 15 Jul 2024.,_Ulrich_(1806-1877)&oldid=146267.

APA style

Geiser, Samuel. (1959). Steiner, Ulrich (1806-1877). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 15 July 2024, from,_Ulrich_(1806-1877)&oldid=146267.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 627. All rights reserved.

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