Pannabecker, Samuel Floyd (1896-1977)

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Born 15 April 1896 at Petoskey, MI to Jacob Nelson Pannabecker and Luna May Plowman-Pannabecker, S. F. Pannabecker married Sylvia Lydia Tschantz, of Dalton, Ohio, on 3 August 1921. Their children were Richard, Robert, Alice Ruth (m. Robert Ramseyer). Reared in a Mennonite Brethren in Christ (Missionary Church) home, S. F. Pannabecker graduated from Bluffton College (AB, 1917), Witmarsum Theological Seminary (MA, 1918), Garrett Biblical Institute, (BD, 1933), and Yale University (PhD, 1944) and was awarded honorary doctorates by Bethel College, Bluffton College, and Bethany Biblical Seminary (Chicago).

After teaching science for five years at Bluffton College, he went to China as a missionary and educator under the General Conference Mennonite Church (1923-1941). Proficient and well-trained in the Chinese language as well as in biblical and historical studies, from 1935 to 1941 he was chairperson of the China mission of the General Conference of Mennonites at Puyang [formerly Kai Chow], Hebei [Hopei] Province, China. (In 1987, Puyang is located in Henan [Honan] Province.) After completing doctoral studies at Yale and teaching one year at Bluffton College, he returned to China, 1945-1946, he opened the Mennonite Central Committee relief unit in Kaifeng.

Unable to continue missionary service in China because of the Sino-Japanese War and later the People's Revolution, he served Mennonite Biblical Seminary, first as dean and professor of missions, then as president in Chicago (1947-1958), and then, in Elkhart, as dean (1958-1964), registrar (1964-1969) and archivist (1969-1977). Highly appreciated and respected as missionary mentor, seminary administrator, and church historian, he authored three major publications, Faith in Ferment (Newton, 1968), a history of the Central District Conference (GCM); Ventures of Faith (Elkhart: Mennonite Biblical Seminary, 1975); and Open Doors (Newton, 1975), the history of the General Conference Mennonite Church based on his Yale doctoral dissertation. Skilled also in photography and fascinated by his status as a twin of Charles Lloyd Pannabecker, a medical missionary and ophthalmologist, he also wrote for his grandchildren We Two, Twice Twinned: Story of the Pannabecker Twins from Cradle to College, published posthumously by his family. S. F. Pannabecker died 14 September 1977.


Springer, Nelson and A.J. Klassen, compilers, Mennonite Bibliography, 1631-1961, 2 vols. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1977: 489.

Warkentin, A. and Melvin Gingerich, compilers. Who's Who Among the Mennonites. North Newton, KS: Bethel College, 1943.

Author(s) Erland Waltner
Date Published 1987

Cite This Article

MLA style

Waltner, Erland. "Pannabecker, Samuel Floyd (1896-1977)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1987. Web. 6 Jul 2022.,_Samuel_Floyd_(1896-1977)&oldid=169057.

APA style

Waltner, Erland. (1987). Pannabecker, Samuel Floyd (1896-1977). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 6 July 2022, from,_Samuel_Floyd_(1896-1977)&oldid=169057.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, pp. 671-672. All rights reserved.

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