Hostetler, Ida Miller (1900-1972) and Hostetler, Sylvan Jay (1901-1978)

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Ida (Miller) and Sylvan Jay "S. J." Hostetler can duly be called explorers. They began church work in settings in India and Ghana; they pastored Mennonite Church (MC) congregations in Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. Not daunted by the unknown or difficult, they approached assignments intent to learn, with a spirit of adventure, with warmth toward people.

Born 16 September 1900, Ida died on 5 January 1972. S. J. lived from 7 March 1901 until 7 October 1978. Both were from Indiana; they married 22 August 1924. Parents of one son and two daughters, Ida and S. J. were missionaries in India, 1928-1949, and in Ghana, 1957-1964, during which time they also explored mission possibilities in Nigeria. During S. J's last five years, he was married to Leona Yoder, who earlier served in Ethiopia and Jordan.

Whether at work with different idioms in language study; meeting needs of boarding school boys, of whom one-third were orphans; on preaching tour to scattered villages; fact-finding with missionaries of other denominations; attending to obstacles or hostility that new Christians met; deciding about schools for non-Christian girls; or reporting to North American churches, Jay and Ida believed in sharing the Good News. They believed in prayer, practiced humor, adapted with grace, and modeled teamwork.

After work in Madhya Pradesh (Central Provinces), India, the decade of the 1940s was given by Hostetlers to establish a mission in Bihar State. Working with tribal people who were primarily basket weavers, S. J. and Ida rejoiced when ten were baptized in 1941. Twelve years later there were 10 missionaries, 15 full-time Indian workers effective in gaining the confidence of people, and 92 church members.

Ida proved to be systematic in checking Home Bible Studies materials in Ghana; she created a course on the Gospel of Mark for new Christians. S. J. gathered 25 topics into a resource for baptism candidates. During 1958 and 1959 he made five trips to explore the Nigeria field. Convinced of the future in mission, both wrote informative articles, rich with anecdotes, for North American readers.


Hostetler, S. J.  We Enter Bihar. Elkhart, IN.: Mennonite Board of Missions, India Mission Study Kit. Also titled "History of Bihar Mennonite Mission 1940-1950." 1951: 45.

Hostetler, S. J. "Supplement to We Enter Bihar 1950-53." 1954: 14.

Hostetler, S. J.  'The Mennonite Church in Ghana 1957-1964." Elkhart, IN: Mennonite Board of Missions, 1979?: 53.

Hostetler, S. J. "Beginning in Bihar." Christian Monitor (January 1946): 14-18.

Hostetler, S. J. "Lessons in Discipleship." 1956, 1958 editions: 64 p. 

Frequent articles in Gospel Herald by both S. J. and Ida Hostetler according to Springer, Nelson and Klassen, A. J., compilers, Mennonite Bibliography, 1631-1961, 2 vols. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1977: II, p. 459.

Author(s) Dorothy Yoder Nyce
Date Published 1987

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MLA style

Nyce, Dorothy Yoder. "Hostetler, Ida Miller (1900-1972) and Hostetler, Sylvan Jay (1901-1978)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1987. Web. 19 Sep 2020.,_Ida_Miller_(1900-1972)_and_Hostetler,_Sylvan_Jay_(1901-1978)&oldid=122515.

APA style

Nyce, Dorothy Yoder. (1987). Hostetler, Ida Miller (1900-1972) and Hostetler, Sylvan Jay (1901-1978). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 19 September 2020, from,_Ida_Miller_(1900-1972)_and_Hostetler,_Sylvan_Jay_(1901-1978)&oldid=122515.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p. 396. All rights reserved.

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