Born 29 January 1893 at Dalton, Ohio, to John H. and Elizabeth (Geiger) Tschantz; Sylvia Tschantz married Samuel Floyd Pannabecker on 13 August 1921. She was the mother of Richard (Bluffton, Ohio), Robert (Kailua, Hawaii), and Alice Ruth (m. Robert Ramseyer), a missionary to Japan.
While attending the academy and the college at Bluffton, Ohio, she developed a strong sense of a missionary call, was active in the Student Volunteer Movement as well as the YWCA, and graduated in 1917. She then went to China as a missionary in 1923. Together she and her husband studied the Chinese language at Beijing and Tamingfu and then served many years at Puyang [formerly Kai Chow]. As social and political conditions in China deteriorated after 1937 and the Sino-Japanese War got under way, she experienced wartime dangers and hardships and in 1941 on advice of the American consul returned to the United States with the children while her husband remained in China for a few additional months. From 1944 to 1946 she taught religious education in the Bluffton, Ohio, public schools.
When her husband was called to administrative leadership in Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Chicago, IL, Sylvia soon gained stature as a beloved and admired "seminary hostess," recognized especially for her deep spirituality and her personal interest in and helpfulness to many generations of seminary students. This ministry continued also into the years after Mennonite Biblical Seminary relocated to Elkhart, IN, in 1958. A biographer has characterized her ministry with the caption "Prayer—Her Most Important Work" (Unrau). Manifestly, the partnership of Samuel Floyd and Sylvia Tschantz Pannabecker as a kingdom team in missions and in theological education has made a significant impact on Mennonite Biblical Seminary and the General Conference Mennonite Church.
Sylvania Pannabecker died 2 June 1974.
Unrau, Ruth. Encircled: Stories of Mennonite Women Newton, KS: Faith and Life, 1986: 177-184.
 Cite This Article
Waltner, Erland. "Pannabecker, Sylvia Tschantz (1893-1974)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1987. Web. 28 Mar 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Pannabecker,_Sylvia_Tschantz_(1893-1974)&oldid=113410.
Waltner, Erland. (1987). Pannabecker, Sylvia Tschantz (1893-1974). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 28 March 2015, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Pannabecker,_Sylvia_Tschantz_(1893-1974)&oldid=113410.
Herald Press website.
©1996-2015 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.