Penner, Peter A. (1871-1949)

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Peter A. Penner. Source: [ Mennonite Library and Archives]. Photo 2003-0016

Peter A. Penner, a noted missionary (General Conference Mennonite) to India, was born at Belo Sirko, South Russia, on 2 April 1871, the son of Abraham Penner (7 February 1849 – 6 November 1940) and Maria (Buhler) Penner (8 July 1847 – 4 April 1911). Peter married Elizabeth Dickmann (17 October 1875, Rudnerweide, Molotschna Colony, South Russia – 2 January 1906, Calcutta, India) on 17 June 1900 in Mountain Lake, MN. Elizabeth was the daughter of Heinrich Dickmann (15 September 1839 – 11 February 1901) and Elizabeth (Nickel) Dickmann (25 February 1836 – 16 November 1899). Two children were born to this marriage, Miriam Hilda and Linda Viola. After Elizabeth’s death he married Martha Richert (15 February 1881, Goessel, KS – October 1957, Newton, Kansas) of Goessel, KS on 24 October 1909. Martha was the daughter of Heinrich Richert (23 May 1831 – 16 October 1895) and Helena (Unruh) Richert (4 November 1846 – 7 December 1936). Peter died at Newton on 3 October 1949 in Newton, Kansas.

His father, who had come from the Bergthal Mennonite settlement, settled in Belo Sirko, and later in Berdyansk, his wife's home. In 1875 the family arrived in Mountain Lake, MN, where Peter attended the elementary and preparatory schools. He spent two years at the Minnesota State Normal School at Mankato and two years, 1895-97, at Bethel Academy, Newton, Kansas. After this he taught elementary school and attended the Missionary Training Institute, Brooklyn, NY (1899). He was a member of the Bethel Mennonite Church, Mountain Lake.

In 1900 Peter and Elizabeth went to India as the first American GCM missionaries, starting a mission at Champa, Central Provinces (now Madhya Pradesh), and establishing the Bethesda Leper Home. In 1941 Penner returned to Newton. In 1926 he was presented the silver Kaiser-i-Hind medal for distinguished service by the Viceroy of India, to which was added at the time of his retirement a silver bar for the forty years of service. Penner's contribution as a missionary was unique in that he was one of the pioneers with a long and very successful term of service. His reports appeared regularly in the Christlicher Bundesbote. Among his writings were He Was - He Is - He Will Be (Newton, 1944), and Kurzer Bericht über die Arbeit unter Aussätzigen (Champa, 1915).


GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 4.19 ed. Fresno, CA: California Mennonite Historical Society, 2005.

Kaufman, Ed. G. The Development of the Missionary and Philanthropic Interest Among the Mennonites of North America. Berne, 1931.

Twenty-Five Years with God in India. Berne, 1929.

Author(s) Mrs. Herbert B Schmidt
Richard D. Thiessen
Date Published August 2006

Cite This Article

MLA style

Schmidt, Mrs. Herbert B and Richard D. Thiessen. "Penner, Peter A. (1871-1949)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. August 2006. Web. 20 Jul 2024.,_Peter_A._(1871-1949)&oldid=93268.

APA style

Schmidt, Mrs. Herbert B and Richard D. Thiessen. (August 2006). Penner, Peter A. (1871-1949). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 July 2024, from,_Peter_A._(1871-1949)&oldid=93268.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 135. All rights reserved.

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