by Homer Rudolf
Although the parish structure of the early German- Russian colonies was probably identical to the Wolost structure,
when the number of daughter colonies increased significantly it became
impossible for pastors to serve the large number of villages.
Re-structuring of the parishes, based upon proximity to the resident
village of the pastor, probably preceded the restructuring of the Wolosts.
In addition, as villages such as Kassel increased in population, there
was a desire by the local congregation to have more frequent services
conducted in the local church by a pastor. There probably also was a
desire to better serve the congregations in the daughter colonies. The
improved financial situation of such villages made it possible for them
to establish a new parish and support a pastor. The village of Kassel
was the first of the Glückstal Colonies to establish its separate
parish. This took place in 1851. Bergdorf followed with an independent
parish in 1865. In the case of Bergdorf, “After long negotiations with
the Consistory [in St. Petersburg], the Minister of the Interior
confirmed the new parish [in Bergdorf], and in the year 1865 the first
pastor, named Baumann, arrived here” [Glückstal-1915, p. 123]. Perhaps
documents will surface in the future that will provide us with
information regarding the process and negotiations that took place.
From the early years of settlement, there were disagreements between the
Lutherans and their more pietistic fellow Germans. Some of the Pietists
were fellow Lutherans and some were members of the Reformed faith
before they emigrated. In addition the tradition of Stunden,
lay- led religious meetings in homes, was brought to South Russia by
the Pietist Lutherans from Württemberg, and perhaps from elsewhere
(often identified as the “Brotherhood” movement). That tradition
continued in the Glückstal Colonies, and eventually in North America.
However, things were managed in the Glückstal Colonies for some time
without an actual split, because the pastors were willing to serve the
beliefs of both constituencies in the congregations. A desire on the
part of the Reformed believers for separation from the Lutherans began
with the publication of the statutes for the Lutheran Church in Russia
in December of 1832. By 1852 the Reformed believers in the Glückstal
district began a campaign to establish a Reformed Parish independent of
the Lutheran Consistory in St. Petersburg, which was finally granted
them on 4 January, 1861. That year the Neudorf Reformed Parish was
established, with congregations and schools in Neudorf, Kassel and
Glückstal. In 1881 Glückstal is still listed by the Odessa Kalender [OdKal]
as being part of the Reformed parish, but in that year it no longer had
a separate school, and no Reformed congregation is listed there after
1883. Kassel continues to be part of the Neudorf Reformed parish with a
congregation and school.
The Odessa Kalender provides us with information between the
years of 1881 and 1915, the only volumes that are known to be extant.
The parish listings, which began in 1872, provided 1) the name of the
parish (Kirchspiel), 2) the name of the pastor (Pastor in Lutheran parishes and Geistlichen in
Reformed parishes), 3) a list of the villages that belonged to the
parish, 4) the name of the school teacher and assistants for each
village, and 5) the number of students in the village school. From 1892
there were listings for the German teacher, the Russian teacher and the
assistants. A completely separate listing is given for the Reformed
parishes, and the Odessa Kalender only lists four Reformed
parishes in the Odessa region between 1881 and 1915: Odessa, Chabag,
Neudorf and Rohrbach. Although Baptists and Seventh-Day Adventists also
established themselves well before 1915, parishes for these
denominations are not listed in the Odessa Kalender. For a more complete discussion of the church in the Glückstal Colonies, see [Church].
We are fortunate to have additional information on the parishes of the
Glückstal colonies before 1881, provided by [Matthäi, p.64]. In his
foreword he states that he draws information from ten different sources,
which he cites. His information on the Lutheran parishes is drawn from
[Kirchen], published in 1862. For that reason Matthäi, whose book was
published in 1866, still listed Bergdorf (created as an independent
Lutheran parish in 1865) as part of the Glückstal Lutheran parish. He
includes information on the Glückstal and Kassel Lutheran parishes in
the Glückstal district.
Regarding Reformed parishes,[ Hamm, p. 226] states “The
Evangelical-Reformed created only two parishes in Odessa and in Chabag,
Bessarabia.” He does not cite the new Neudorf Reformed Parish, created
in January 1861, because his study is based upon information he
accumulated on a trip to South Russia in 1858-1859. The foreword to his
book is dated “1861, Leipzig.”
For additional information on the parish structure of the Glückstal colonies see [Glückstal-2004, pp. 205-215 & 127-167]
[Church] – Rudolf, Homer. “The Church in the Glückstal Colonies and Hoffnungstal,” in
[Glückstal-2004], p. 357-393.
[Glückstal-1915] — “Das Wolostgebiet Glückstal,” in Neuer Haus- und Landwirthschafts- Kalender für deutsche Aussiedler in südlicher Russland auf das Jahr 1915. Odessa:
Druck und Verlag von L. Nitzsche, , pp. 108–128. (English transl.
in [Glückstal-2004, pp. 51-55, 68- 69, 86, & 96-97].)
[Glückstal-2004] – Rudolf, Homer ed. The Glückstalers in New Russia and North America: A Bicentennial Collection of History, Genealogy and Folklore. Pierre, SD: State Pub. & Printing, 2004.
[Kirchen] – Materialen zur Geschichte und Statistik des Kirchen- und Schulwesens der ev.-luth. Gemeinden in Russland. St. Petersburg: 1862.
[Mattäi] – Matthäi, Friedrich. Die deutschen Ansiedelungen
in Russland: Ihre Geschichte und ihre volkswirthschaftliche Gedenkung
für die Vergangenheit und Zukunft. Studien über das russische
Kolonisationswesen und über die Herbeiziehung fremder Kulturkräfte nach
Russland. Leipzig: Hermann Fries, 1866.
[OdKal] — Neuer Haus- und Landwirthschafts- Kalender für deutsche Aussiedler in südlicher
Russland auf das Jahr ... Odessa: Druck und Verlag von L. Nitzsche, [published 1863-1915].
Homer Rudolf, 2009