Toews, Jacob John "J. J." (1914-1995)

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J. J. and Lena Toews
Source: R. D. Thiessen

Jacob John "J. J." Toews: minister and teacher; born 30 April 1914 in Alexandertal, Molotschna Mennonite Settlement, South Russia, to Johann A. Toews (23 February 1876, Alexanderkrone, Molotschna Mennonite Settlement, South Russia – 2 September 1953, Coaldale, Alberta, Canada) and Margaretha (Janz) Toews (6 July 1880, Konteniusfeld, Molotschna, - 1 February 1973, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada), the fifth of six children. On 3 October 1937, Jacob married Lena Schulz (11 April 1914, Alexandertal, Molotschna, South Russia - 14 June 1997, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), daughter of David Schulz (1883-1965) and Agatha (Suderman) Schulz (1893-1934), in Coaldale, Alberta, Canada. The couple had three children, Melvin, Philip, and Carolyn, the eldest of whom died shortly before J. J. in 1995. Toews died in Winnipeg on 6 March 1995, where he was buried.

Jacob spent his early years in Russia, receiving his early education from his father, who was a minister, teacher, and farmer. In 1926, Jacob’s education was interrupted when the family moved from Russia to Canada, where they settled onto a beet farm near Coaldale, Alberta. He continued his education in Canada, going by horse into Coaldale to attend high school. Jacob was converted in 1928 and joined the church.  From an early age, Jacob wanted to follow his father’s example of ministry and work in the church full time, and after his graduation, he attended Coaldale Bible School and later Bethany Bible School in Hepburn, Saskatchewan, Canada.

After completing his Bible school studies, Toews served as a pastor in several congregations in the United States, including Dallas, Oregon (1940-1944); Shafter, California (1944-1946); and Buhler, Kansas (1948-1954). In Canada, he worked in Kitchener, Ontario (1954-1959) and Winnipeg, Manitoba (1960-1962). In addition, he served for some time in Neuwied, Germany. He taught Bible classes in several places, including Lustre, Montana; the Pacific Bible Institute in Fresno, California; Bethany Bible School in Hepburn; the Mennonite Brethren Bible College in Winnipeg (1959-1966); and Columbia Bible Institute in Clearbrook, British Columbia (1977-1979).

During his years as a pastor, Toews continued to study in his field, earning Master’s degrees from the University of Toronto (1948), Western Evangelical Lutheran Seminary (1959), and the Winona Lake School of Theology (1963). Later, he earned a PhD from Dallas Theological Seminary (1970).

From 1966 to 1975, Toews served as executive secretary for evangelism in the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, and he also worked as a resource person and minister with Mennonite Brethren Missions/Services in Europe and South America from 1979 to 1984. He was involved in evangelism in North America; he joined the Western Children’s Mission and frequently preached in evangelistic meetings in churches and schools, as well as serving on the Tabor College Board, the Board of Evangelism and Missions, and the Kansas State Sunday School Board. His final job was as Conference Minister for the Central District of the Mennonite Brethren Conference in the United States.

Following his retirement, J. J. and Lena returned to Winnipeg, where they became active in the local church. Jacob’s health gradually deteriorated and he spent his last year at the Donwood Manor Personal Care Home in Winnipeg. He died on 6 March 1995 in Winnipeg, and the funeral was on 10 March.  His wife, Lena, died two years later.

J. J. Toews was a dedicated minister, evangelist, and teacher whose commitment to the church and the community inspired many people around him. Through his work in the many different churches and Bible schools where he served, he helped set an example for future generations to follow.


Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches. “Jacob J. Toews (1914–1995). Web. 7 July 2010.

GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 6.02 ed. Fresno, CA: California Mennonite Historical Society, 2010: #209030.

Mennonite Brethren Herald (30 June 1995): 28.

Mennonitische Rundschau (July 1995): 34.

Archival Records

Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies, Winnipeg, MB: Volumes 1061–1063.

Author(s) Susan Huebert
Date Published July 2010

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MLA style

Huebert, Susan. "Toews, Jacob John "J. J." (1914-1995)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. July 2010. Web. 30 May 2024.,_Jacob_John_%22J._J.%22_(1914-1995)&oldid=143093.

APA style

Huebert, Susan. (July 2010). Toews, Jacob John "J. J." (1914-1995). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 30 May 2024, from,_Jacob_John_%22J._J.%22_(1914-1995)&oldid=143093.

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