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Wedel, Peter H. (1865–1897)

Proper Title

Peter H. Wedel collection

Dates of Creation

1968

Physical Description

0.1cm of textual records

Biographical Sketch

Peter H. Wedel, an evangelist and missionary of the Mennonite Brethren (MB) Church, was born in Alexanderwohl, Molotschna Mennonite settlement, South Russia on April 7, 1865. Peter was the fourth child of Cornelius P. Wedel (1836-1900) and Helena Wiebe (1840-1866). On June 7, 1895, Peter married Martha Liebig (1873-1915) in South Dakota. Martha was the daughter of August G. A. Liebig (1836-1914). After Peter’s death, Martha married for the second time to Jacob Wahl. Peter and Martha had one child, Herbert (b. April 4, 1896 in Douala, Cameroon).

Peter immigrated to America with his family in 1874, settling near Goessel, Marion County, Kansas. His father Cornelius Wedel became elder of the MB Church there in 1886. Their son Peter, a very gifted boy, received his education partly in Russia and partly in America and became a country schoolteacher.

Wedel was converted at an early age and joined the MB Church through baptism and became an active member. The Mennonitischer Schulverein supported Wedel at the Baptist Theological Seminary, Rochester, New York for some time, hoping that he would later establish a Mennonite Brethren church school.

Upon the completion of his course Wedel, however, decided to enter evangelistic work. From 1888-1895 he was exceedingly active and effective in conducting evangelistic campaigns in the MB congregations of Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Minnesota.

Wedel felt called to serve as a foreign missionary. Since the MB Church, at that time, had no foreign mission field, he decided to go under the German Baptist Missionary Society. After his marriage to Martha Liebig, he left for Cameroon, Africa, stopping in Germany and also making a visit to the Mennonite settlements of South Russia. In both countries, he conducted very effective evangelistic campaigns. After two years of significant service on the mission field, his health required him to leave. He died on the voyage to Europe on August 10, 1897, and was buried at sea. His short service and early death had a profound effect upon the Mennonite Brethren Church and was a powerful influence in the formation of its own foreign mission work.

The life and legacy of Peter H. Wedel can be found in several sources, including: John H. Lohrenz and Richard D. Thiessen, “Wedel, Peter H. (1865-1897),” in Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/W4388.html (August 15, 2012); Peggy Goertzen, “Peter H. Wedel: Pioneer Missionary to the Cameroons,” in Profiles of Mennonite Faith (Summer 2009), http://www.mbhistory.org/profiles/wedel.en.html (accessed August 15, 2012); Harold Jantz, “David Dyck, A Tireless Leader,” in Heritage Posting 31 (December 2000): 3; J.B. Toews, A Pilgrimage of Faith: The Mennonite Brethren Church in Russia and North America, 1860-1990 (Winnipeg: Kindred, 1993); and Peter M. Friesen, Mennonites in North America (1874-1910), trans. Jake K. Balzer (Winnipeg and Goessel: Kindred, 2012), 13, 60.

Custodial History

In 2001, when Abe J. Dueck was doing research on August Liebig (Wedel’s father-in-law), in preparation for a publication on Liebig in the Center for Mennonite Brethren Studies Newsletter, Hillsboro, KS (17 [Spring 2004]: 1–4), he requested and secured a copy of A. E. Janzen’s biography of Peter H. Wedel. Peggy Goertzen, from the Center for MB Studies, Hillsboro, copied and sent the manuscript to Abe on June 21, 2001.

Scope and Content

The Peter H. Wedel collection consists of one, 8-page typed manuscript, written by A.E. Janzen, long-time MB Mission administrator (1945-1960). This collection documents well the childhood, call to ministry, preparation, mission work, and contributions of this significant leader.

Notes

  • Title based on contents of collection.
  • Volume No.: 1346.
  • Finding aid consists of a description and a file list.
  • Description created by Jon Isaak, August 2012.
  • No restrictions to access.
  • Language: English.

File List

1. Peter H. Wedel, a biography, by A. E. Janzen. -- 1968.

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