Litwiller, Nelson (1898-1986)

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Nelson and Ada (Ramseyer) Litwiller Source: Nelson Litwiller Photograph Collection. HM4-310SC. Mennonite Church USA Archives - Goshen. Goshen, Indiana

Nelson Litwiller; a leader in Mennonite mission in Latin America (1925-67); born 16 February 1898 in St. Agatha, Ontario, Canada, the eldest of three children of Jacob Litwiller (7 March 1874 - 2 June 1928) and Rachel (Jantzi) Litwiller (19 May 1878 - 26 April 1960). He married Ada Ramseyer on 23 April 1919 and they had five children, Lois (m. Albert Buckwalter), Beulah (Gonzales), Eunice (m. Daniel Miller), John (d. 1971), and Esther (m. James Shertz). Nelson died of cancer, 18 November 1986, in Goshen and was buried at the St. Agatha Mennonite Church.

Born in St. Agatha, Ontario, he and his wife, Ada Ramseyer Litwiller, studied at Bethany Bible Training School (Church of the Brethren) in Chicago (1919-24), followed by a year at Goshen College where Nelson received Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Divinity degrees. He was ordained in 1925 at College Mennonite Church in Goshen by Bishop David A. Yoder.

Nelson and Ada served with Mennonite Board of Missions (MC), Elkhart, Indiana, in Argentina for 31 years (1925-56). He was named bishop in 1947. In Montevideo, Uruguay, he became founding president of Seminario Evangélico Menonita de Teología (1956-67), serving additionally as mission field secretary for all of Latin America.

In 1968 the Litwillers moved to Goshen, Indiana. In 1970, at a point of deep searching, Nelson experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit in a Roman Catholic charismatic prayer meeting at nearby South Bend, Indiana. For the rest of his lifetime, expressed as "revitalized retirement," he promoted unity within the body of Christ, serving as a bridge between traditional church leaders and those in charismatic circles. In 1975 he helped start Mennonite Renewal Services (MRS), the charismatic arm of the Mennonite church.

In retirement Nelson was active in itinerant ministries in North America and overseas. In his later years, he was especially active within the Mennonite renewal and ecumenical charismatic movements.


Springer, Nelson and A. J. Klassen, compilers. Mennonite Bibliography, 1631-1961, vol. 2. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1977: 474.

Author(s) John M Bender
Date Published 1990

Cite This Article

MLA style

Bender, John M. "Litwiller, Nelson (1898-1986)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1990. Web. 11 Dec 2023.,_Nelson_(1898-1986)&oldid=92453.

APA style

Bender, John M. (1990). Litwiller, Nelson (1898-1986). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 11 December 2023, from,_Nelson_(1898-1986)&oldid=92453.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p. 527. All rights reserved.

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