Ediger, Elmer M. (1917-1983)

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Elmer Ediger (left) and J. Herbert Fretz converse in the 1960s.
Photo courtesy Mennonite Archive of Ontario #1992-14-2288

Elmer Martens Ediger: administrator and church leader, was born 4 August 1917 in Greensburg, Kansas, the son of David J. Ediger (29 August 1880-17 October 1946) and Anna Martens Ediger (21 August 1881-19 June 1956). Elmer was the seventh child in a family of nine sons and 2 daughters. Ediger was married to Mildred Lorraine Gerbrand (7 November 1916-11 June 1974) on 6 October 1943. They had three children. After Mildred's death, on 14 September 1975 Ediger married Tina Block (25 April 1931-16 October 2014), originally from Steinbach, Manitoba. He and his family were members of the Bethel College Mennonite Church. He died 22 September 1983. Elmer and Mildred are buried in the Greenwood Cemetery, Newton, Kansas.

Elmer Ediger grew up on a farm and attended public school near Buhler, Kansas, graduating from Buhler Public School. Following his graduation from Bethel College in 1940, he taught high school at Ellis and Buhler, Kansas. During World War II he entered Civilian Public Service (CPS) in 1942. He initially served at Colorado Springs and Weeping Water, Nebraska and eventually became educational secretary for the entire CPS program administered by Mennonite Central Committee (general director of MCC-CPS, 1946). He continued in MCC service from 1946 to 1951 as director of Mennonite Mental Health Services (MMHS) and executive secretary of the voluntary service program. He is widely acknowledged as being the prime mover in launching both the MMHS program and MCC's postwar voluntary service program.

From 1949 to 1951 Ediger studied at Bethany Biblical Seminary and Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Chicago (MDiv, 1951). He became Executive Director of the newly established Board of Christian Service (General Conference Mennonite Church) in 1951. He is also recognized as the prime mover in establishing Prairie View Health Center, of which he was the chief executive officer from 1957 to 1983.

Ediger was a member of numerous national professional organizations in the field of mental health. Evidence of his leadership in this field may be found in Vernon H. Neufeld's If We Can Love: The Mennonite Mental Health Story (Newton, 1978). He was also a member and chairman of Paraguay-Kansas Partners and the Bethel College Board of Directors. He is credited as having been a highly creative and skilled administrator of church-related programs, one who had an unusual ability to assimilate ideas and to adapt and translate them into institutional programs.


GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 19-07 ed. Fresno, CA: " California Mennonite Historical Society, 2020: #225275.


Elmer Ediger Papers. MS.334, Mennonite Library and Archives, Bethel College, North Newton, Kansas. http://mac.libraryhost.com/index.php?p=collections/controlcard&id=134&q=Elmer+Ediger.

Author(s) Robert S. Kreider
David A. Haury
Date Published January 2020

Cite This Article

MLA style

Kreider, Robert S. and David A. Haury. "Ediger, Elmer M. (1917-1983)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. January 2020. Web. 12 Apr 2024. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Ediger,_Elmer_M._(1917-1983)&oldid=166426.

APA style

Kreider, Robert S. and David A. Haury. (January 2020). Ediger, Elmer M. (1917-1983). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 12 April 2024, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Ediger,_Elmer_M._(1917-1983)&oldid=166426.

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