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Beginnings of Baptists in Berlin

The origins of the Baptists in Berlin (born died 1799th 1882) with the engraver and later preachers Gottfried Wilhelm Lehmann connected. As a young man Lehmann lived for several years in East Frisia. His parents in Berlin could hardly feed their five children. He himself was influenced Lutheran, in East Friesland, he learned now also other churches and young committed Christians from around the Reformed Church or know of the Mennonites.

Back in Berlin will soon be Lehmann spiritual home in his hometown pietistic communities. Pietism was a renewal movement within the Protestant churches. The need for personal conversion and commitment to Christ was preached there. The personal and community Bible reading and prayer were taught. An enormous missionary and diaconal commitment drew from the pietists. Lehmann held in Berlin on Bohemian Bethlehem Church and the Moravian Brethren.

Lehmann is secretary of the Association for abstinence and brings especially in Bible and Tract distribution with a. Many Christians at that time were trying to warn of the dangers of high alcohol consumption and to accompany people on their way out of addiction out. The distribution of Bibles and booklets (treatises) on various topics at that time was a very successful and verbreitere missionary method.

By treatise distribution Lehman Johann Gerhard Oncken met, Agent of the Edinburgh Bible Society in Hamburg. Both had already epistolary Kon-clock. Now Oncken came to Berlin, could provide affordable Bibles to distribute to the poor disposal and won by rousing speeches many Christians in this missionary work. Lehmann and Oncken felt a deep kinship and became friends.

1834 Oncken was baptized in Hamburg. In a Bible study group in 1929 had found to Tauferkenntnis he and others. An infant baptism was their Überzeu-gung after no biblical baptism be and this also can not replace. 1834 then the Baptist theology professor Barnas Sears came within his sabbatical year to Hamburg. He "checked" the seven candidates for baptism the Bible circle, inquires about their faith and willingness to create a community of baptized. On April 22, 1834 at midnight in the same baptism was completed. On the same day the first Baptist congregation was founded in Germany in Hamburg.

Lehmann in Berlin is initially unsettled by this news. He knew this understanding of baptism of the Mennonites from East Friesland. Menno Simons, the founder of this church, had 300 years ago to be baptized like now Oncken. Lehmann had read of great missionaries of the Baptists in the world. But he also knew that a Taufentscheidung would separate him from many beloved brothers and works in Berlin. But his wife Leonore Lehmann was quickly and firmly convinced of the rightness of faith baptism. The New Testament baptism is not only blessing baptism, it is always baptism of repentance. God and baptized say yes to each other. On the conversion to Christ in baptism in the Promised Verge-tion of sin, receiving the Holy Spirit, the divine filiation and the church membership are bound. All this can ascribe any infant.

Baptism Oncken and the community of baptized believers in Hamburg were discussed very critical in he-woke circles of Berlin. Three years after Hamburg but the first Baptist congregation in Berlin is born. On May 13, 1837 Gottfried Wilhelm Lehmann and Leonore and four other people were baptized in Rummelsberger lake. The arrived from Hamburg former businessman and current minister Oncken, which was banned due to its new doctrines to enter Prussia, baptized secretly. With the celebration of the Last Supper, the congregation was on Pentecost Sunday, May 14, 1837 in the apartment Lehmann founded.

Many fellow Lehmann went on distance. At a public meeting of the Enthaltsamkeits Society, which he himself had founded with, he was insulted and dismissed from the post of secretary. The doors of the churches were closed to him and the small new municipality. The services were held on the fourth floor Blumenstraße 64a in the living room at Lehmann. The regular sermons and many other works cost the skilled engraver all power. In the first three years, only six new members came to church. Oncken had traveled to-next to each baptism. In June 1840 but Lehmann is ordained in London by six English Baptist pastors preacher or pastor. Now he could even in Berlin perform the baptisms.

A special feature of the early Baptists in Germany was the celebration of the love feast. The Community testified in the New Testament high importance A-bendmahl was well seen. But to reform the Lord's Supper itself and to give it new forms, was not addressed. Very frequently, however, so they stayed at or after the service to the love feast with tea and cake in God's service area. In the first own meetinghouse of Baptists in Hamburg, the pews were designed so that they fold and could convert into tables for the love feast.

The Berlin community went later in the Schmidstraße this over, every Sunday night to stay after the afternoon service for supper in the community. Everyone brought something and also poor or living alone were able to share in the joyous table fellowship. The Community was an important part of the community. How should we support each other, complement each other and be mean-sam on a path, if you do not personally know well!

First, however, found the meetings in Berlin in 1840 in the Scharrenstraße 18 instead. By tearing some walls stairs a small hall was highly developed in the apartment. Still had baptisms are performed secretly. The opposition from the churches and the city administration were considerable. In the churches has been warned of the "Anabaptists". Through his ordination and installation as Pastor Lehmann was even stronger being targeted.

On Ascension Day May 5, 1842 eighteen men raided the church in the Scharrenstraße. Two of her colleagues from the sugar factory had to be baptized. Lehmann is deposited. Present brethren exhorting him to leave the room. Pulpit and means are smashed. Lehmann's courageous woman stands in the middle of the crowd. It calls on two brothers to call the police. As end-lich a policeman comes, the thugs sitting in a restaurant next door. They are being interrogated, but it will not do anything. Moreover, the police "advised them to withdraw for now, until the people had lost everything, afterwards they might as well come back and everything else still bruised." (Lehmann; quoted by Rudolf Donat, As the work began, Kassel 1958, p 75) A conviction of a bat or damages did not exist.

The Baptists came repeatedly into conflict with authorities. In the 50s Lehmann maintains a table over punishments of Baptists. 48 arrests, punitive, layoffs or detentions of years 1851 to 1858 from the communities in Germany are known to him. Baptists were not allowed to gather in public. Marriages were not recognized. The sacraments baptism and communion should perform only pastors of regional churches. Many preachers and laymen escaped with a fine or shorter prison sentences. Elsewhere, came men and women four weeks in jail because they had gathered in a forest to a church service. Even the distribution of tracts to be baptized could pull a few days detention by itself. Teachers who were baptized were dismissed from schools.

A treatise club founded Lehmann not in his community. The treatise Mission was for the whole community. The brothers and sisters of the small community distributed in the first seven years not less than 1,000 Bibles and 107,000 tracts in and around Berlin. Berlin scored no 300.000 inhabitants! Title of Verteilschriften were, for example, "The righteousness of God", "consequences of drunkenness", "The word of the Cross". Also specially for children printed writings found large sales. "As soon as there was a well-Baptists that time who did not have tracts in my pocket." (Rudolf Donat, ibid, p.85).

In September 1846 Lehmann came from a one-year collection journey by Eng-land back to Berlin. He brought with 1,200 pounds sterling. The town was 17 to buy a plot in the Schmidstraße to build the first private chapel. For the building police but there was no Baptist church in Berlin, it was not accepted as the owner. So the plan was entitled "House for Herr Lehmann". The community hall was built on the first floor.

A legal relief brought a royal patent in March 1847 which allowed each to withdraw from the national church, which is signed off before the Court. The civil marriage was introduced so that Baptists no longer had to marry in the Lutheran Church. More freedom for the church brought the revolution of March 18, 1848. The right to assembly and freedom of belief began to assert themselves.

Was the church increased in the first three years 1837 to 1840 only from six to twelve members, counted after ten years to 1847 but 320 baptized members. Also in the following years the community grew considerably. Lehmann's son Joseph Lehmann has been set as the second preacher. Josef Lehmann was the first preacher of the community who had completed a thorough theological training.

Gottfried Wilhelm Lehmann, the father breaks in 1860 again to a collection journey to England. Of the raised funds, the chapel was extended consuming. The sermon in the first service on November 10, 1861 holding Julius Koebner, a converted from Judaism Dane, who worked in Hamburg and throughout Germany with Oncken. Oncken, who had also arrived, Lehmann and Köbner were back then as "Shamrock" as formative founding figures of Baptists in Germany. Later, after the death of Lehmann, also Köbner served in old age the Berlin commune for a year as a preacher. As of April 1884 was Eduard Schewe preacher of Berlin community, who with his wife founded the Diakonissenmutterhaus Bethel together.

The community continued to grow numerically. 1887 was divided into two communities. Almost half of the more than 1000 members found a new home in the new meetinghouse in the Gubener Street in the eastern part of the city. The remaining in the community supervised Schmidstraße further branch communities in Berlin and west of Ha-vel: Steglitz, Charlottenburg, Mariendorf, Neukölln and Spandau and Rixdorf-au-ßerhalb Berlin in Dalgow, Luckenwalde, Jüterbog and Velten. After a few years there were in the Schmidstraße already 1,000 members. 1891 re-advanced large meeting house was inaugurated.
Tageslosung¹ für Montag, den 8. März 2021

HERR, du bist unser Gott, gegen dich vermag kein Mensch etwas.
(2.Chronik 14,10)

Ich will mich am allerliebsten rühmen meiner Schwachheit, auf dass die Kraft Christi bei mir wohne.
(2.Korinther 12,9)

¹ © Evang. Brüder-Unität, Herrnhuter Losungen

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