Warkentin, Abraham (1885-1947)

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Abraham and Elizabeth Warkentin, ca. 1945
Photographer: Merrill Chase Studios, Palmer House, Chicago, Illinois.
Mennonite Library and Archives, Bethel College, North Newton, KS: #2009-0138

Abraham Warkentin: Mennonite (General Conference Mennonite [GCM]) minister and educator; born in Ladekopp, Molotschna Mennonite settlement, South Russia on 22 August 1885, the son of Gerhard Warkentin and Helena (Klassen) Warkentin. He married Elizabeth Unger of Alexanderwohl, 24 August 1912, and four children were born to them (see additional information for further information regarding Abraham's family). Abraham died on 30 August 1947.

After attending the Zentralschule at Ohrloff 1899-1900 and at Halbstadt 1900-2 and the normal school at Halbstadt until 1904, he taught in the Alexanderwohl school until 1912. In 1912-15 he attended the Baptist Theological Seminary at Hamburg, Germany, then taught at the Realschule at Wilhelmsdorf, Württemberg, Germany, 1916-20. He served as secretary of the Deutsche Mennonitenhilfe in Germany 1920-23. In Russia Warkentin was a member of the Lichtfelde Evangelical Mennonite Church. In 1920 Abraham Warkentin was ordained minister and elder by the Conference of South German Mennonites. In 1923 the family immigrated to the United States. After a brief stay in Hillsboro, Kansas, they moved to Newton, Kansas, where he became assistant pastor of the First Mennonite Church and instructor in languages and Bible at Bethel College. During 1927-29 he earned his A.B. and A.M. degrees at the University of Kansas, then returned to teach at Bethel College. In 1933 he entered the University of Chicago where he received the Ph.D. degree in 1935. His dissertation, Die Gestalt des Teufels in der deutschen Volkssage, was published in 1937.

From 1935 until 1943 Warkentin continued as professor of Bible and German at Bethel College. He was also principal of the Bethel College Mennonite Bible Academy and coeditor of the Bethel College Monthly (1925-27). In addition he was editor-in-chief of the GCM Sunday-school quarterly 1937-42, a member of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) 1933-40, secretary of the GCM Placement Committee 1941-43, and member of the GCM Historical Committee 1941-47.

Among Warkentin's significant achievements was the revitalizing of the Mennonite Historical collection at Bethel College. He laid the foundation for the present Bethel College Historical Library (see Mennonite Library and Archives of Bethel College). In 1943 he suffered a stroke and was forced to resign from his duties in connection with Bethel College and the First Mennonite Church. After his health was sufficiently restored he accepted the assignment of establishing the Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Chicago which started functioning in 1945 and of which he was the first president.

Warkentin's contribution in education, in strengthening basic Mennonite and Christian convictions within the church, in the production of Christian literature, relief work, and the training of the ministry was of great significance. He also wrote Who's Who Among the Mennonites (N. Newton, 1937, 1943) (with Melvin Gingerich); Der Eid (G.C.M. Committee on Doctrine and Conduct, n.d.); Extracts from Mennonite History in Outline Form (n.p., n.d.); A Harmony of the Kings (North Newton, 1939 and 1942); The Oath (G.C.M. Committee on Doctrine and Conduct, 1937). He was also a regular contributor to various periodicals and an appreciated Bible and conference lecturer.


GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 5.02 ed. Fresno, CA: California Mennonite Historical Society, 2006: #405943.

Krahn, Cornelius. "Dr. A. Warkentin." The Mennonite (16 Sept. 1947): 3.

Additional Information

Abraham was the son of Gerhard Warkentin (b. 1842, Tiegenhagen, Molotschna, South Russia) and Helena (Klassen) Warkentin (1843, Ladekopp, Molotschna, South Russia – 6 September 1912).

Abraham married Elizabeth Unger on 24 August 1912 in Alexanderwohl, Molotschna, South Russia. Abraham and Elizabeth had four children: John, Helmut, Herman, and Edith.

Author(s) Cornelius Krahn
Richard D. Thiessen
Date Published June 2007

Cite This Article

MLA style

Krahn, Cornelius and Richard D. Thiessen. "Warkentin, Abraham (1885-1947)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. June 2007. Web. 30 Jun 2022. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Warkentin,_Abraham_(1885-1947)&oldid=162999.

APA style

Krahn, Cornelius and Richard D. Thiessen. (June 2007). Warkentin, Abraham (1885-1947). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 30 June 2022, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Warkentin,_Abraham_(1885-1947)&oldid=162999.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 887-888. All rights reserved.

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