Peters, George W. (1907-1988)

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George William Peters: missiologist; born 3 September 1907 in Orloff, Zagradovka Mennonite Settlement, South Russia, the youngest of 12 children of Wilhelm B. Peters (26 October 1861, South Russia - 29 November 1919, Orloff, Zagradovka, South Russia) and Anna (Baerg) Peters (13 May 1865, Jurtemalee, South Russia - 15 July 1936, Blumenort, Manitoba, Canada). George married Susan Lepp (1 February 1907, Mountain Lake, Minnesota, USA - 8 November 2006, Reedley, California, USA), daughter of Jacob Lepp (1873-1968) and Maria (Sperling) Lepp (1873-1912), on 29 September 1935 in Dalmeny, Saskatchewan, Canada. Four children were born to Susan and George: Mary Ann, Arnold, Eldon, and Lois. George died on 24 December 1988 in Fresno, California, USA, and was buried in Reedley Cemetery, Reedley, California.

George was 12 when he lost his father, a sister, and many other relatives in the massacre of Orloff, Zagradovka on 29 November 1919. The Peters family immigrated to Mexico in 1925 and to Canada in January 1926.

George attended Herbert Bible School and Winkler Bible Institute. Upon graduation, he became an instructor in dogmatic theology, New Testament exegesis, and missiology at Bethany Bible Institute in 1932, and continued to teach at Bethany until 1945. During this time he along with others from the school founded the Western Children’s Mission. George continued his studies at the University of Saskatchewan and Tabor College and graduated with Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Theology degrees at Tabor College. Studies at Northern Baptist Seminary in Elgin at Chicago and St. Andrews College in Saskatoon led to a Bachelor of Divinity degree. He obtained his Th.D. at Temple Hall Seminary, and his Ph.D. at Kennedy School of Missions at Hartford Seminary, Connecticut in 1947.

Peters served as president of Pacific Bible Institute from 1947 to 1952, and as academic dean and professor of theology and missions from 1952 to 1955. In 1955 he became academic dean at Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary, and served until 1960. He developed strong missions curricula for both schools and motivated many graduates to choose missionary service as their life’s calling. George also served for 25 years on the Mennonite Brethren Board of Foreign Missions and as pastor of Buhler Mennonite Brethren Church from 1960 to 1962.

In 1962 Peters became Professor of Missiology at Dallas Theological Seminary, where he served for 14 years as head of the mission department. He served until 1976.

After his retirement he in 1979 accepted a call from the Liebenzeller Mission to teach missions in Germany, where he was instrumental in establishing the Freie Hochschule für Mission in Korntal, a center for evangelical missiology and missionary training in Europe. Peters also managed the newly founded Seminar für Missionarische Fortbildung at Arbeitsgemeinschaft Evangelikaler Missionen (Association of Evangelical Missions) in Monbachtal, which later became the Akademie für Weltmission (Academy for World Mission) in Korntal. He returned to Fresno in 1987 and passed away the following year.

Peters saw the Bible as an inherently missionary book from start to finish and believed that mission itself is based primarily in the character of God. Even without a direct command from Christ, mission flows from the heart of God and his Spirit as a missionary Spirit. His emphasis was not on dispensational pre-millennialism as a system, but it is evident that that was his orientation.

Peters distinguished between what he termed the centripetal pattern of the Old Testament and the centrifugal pattern in the New. The general pattern of the Old Testament was that Israel should attract the nations. In the New Testament, the people of God are sent out in a more centrifugal pattern as in the Great Commission statements.

Peters's contribution to evangelical missiology lies primarily in his observation of a continuous thread of universality in God's concern for the nations throughout the Old and New Testaments.


GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 16-11 ed. Fresno, CA: " California Mennonite Historical Society, 2016: #149275.

Kasdorf, Hans. "Peters, George W(ilhelm)." In Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions by Gerald H. Anderson: 529.

Kasdorf, Hans and Klaus W. Müller, eds. Bilanz und Plan: Mission an der Schwelle zum dritten Jahrtausend, Festschrift for George W. Peters, with chapters in both German and English. Bad Liebenzell, Ger.: Liebenzeller Mission, 1988.

Pocock, Michael. "The Influence of Premillennial Eschatology on Evangelical Missionary Theory and Praxis from the Late Nineteenth Century to the Present." International Bulletin of Missionary Research. 33, no. 3 (July 2009): 129-136.

Writings by George W. Peters

A Biblical Theology of Mission. Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1975.

Divorce and Remarriage. Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1972.

Evangelisation: total – durchdringend – umfassend. Bad Liebenzell, Germany: Verlag der Liebenzeller Mission, 1977.

Gemeindewachstum: Ein theologischer Grundriß. Bad Liebenzell, Germany: Verlag der Liebenzeller Mission, 1982.

The Growth of Foreign Missions in the Mennonite Brethren Church. Hillsboro, KS: Board of Foreign Missions, Conference of the Mennonite Brethren Church of North America, 1947.

Indonesia Revival: Focus on Timor. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1973.

Missionarisches Handeln und biblischer Auftrag: Eine Theologie der Mission. Bad Liebenzell , Germany: Verlag der Liebenzeller Mission, 1977, 1985.

Saturation Evangelism. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1970.

A Theology of Church Growth. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1981.

We Believe in World Missions. Dallas, TX: Dallas Theological Seminary, 1978.

Author(s) Richard D Thiessen
Date Published December 2016

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MLA style

Thiessen, Richard D. "Peters, George W. (1907-1988)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. December 2016. Web. 1 Oct 2023.,_George_W._(1907-1988)&oldid=141876.

APA style

Thiessen, Richard D. (December 2016). Peters, George W. (1907-1988). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 1 October 2023, from,_George_W._(1907-1988)&oldid=141876.

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