Schwartzentruber, Grace Magdalene (1930-2005)

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Grace Magdalene Bender Schwartzentruber: missionary to Brazil, was born 5 September 1930 in New Hamburg, Ontario to Melvin Bender (21 January 1907-17 November 1967) and Mabel (Roth) Bender (20 February 1909-27 May 1989). She was the eldest of nine children. Grace and her husband Kenneth Schwartzentruber (1928- ) were part of the second wave of missionaries from the Ontario Amish Mennonite Conference in Canada. She died 9 March 2005 in Kitchener.

Grace grew up in the Steinmann Mennonite Church, and in her teenage years heard the testimonies of Canadian missionaries Amos and Edna Swartzentruber and Nelson and Ada Litwiller, about their work in South America. Grace and Kenneth Schwartzentruber were married on 2 June 1951, the first couple to be wed in the Nairn Mennonite Church, near Ailsa Craig, Ontario. Grace and Ken had four children. 

Sensing God's call to mission work in Latin America, Grace and Ken studied at Eastern Mennonite College (now Eastern Mennonite University) in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and later moved to Goshen, Indiana, where Ken completed seminary studies at Goshen Biblical Seminary. They served as missionaries in Brazil under Mennonite Board of Missions from 1961 to 1993, when they retired in Ontario.

In Brazil, Grace was involved in Portuguese-speaking and English-speaking congregations as administrator, teacher, organist, worship leader, counselor and friend. She helped with the efforts of Christian bookselling and Mennonite publishing in Portuguese and with bookkeeping for the Aliança Evangélica Menonita, Brazil (Evangelical Mennonite Alliance); formerly Associação Evangélica Menonita, Brazil (Evangelical Mennonite Association). She was well-known for her generous hospitality and enjoyed leading tours, which included visits to natural wonders, historical sites, local churches, street markets, and even funeral homes.

In their retirement years, Grace and Ken were active in Steinmann Mennonite Church, in Baden, Ontario, where she served as elder and edited the church newsletter. For a period, she and Ken served jointly as interim ministers for the congregation.

In addition to nurturing her own children and grandchildren, Grace served as a mentor to many other people across the age-span, encouraging them to develop and use their gifts for the good of others. Her influence was evidenced by the estimated 500 people who attended her funeral and the hundreds of condolence messages which arrived from friends in South America, the United States, and Canada.


Mennonite Church Canada. "Grace Schwartzentruber: a Life." 22 March 2005. Web. 30 January 2013.

"Mission worker Grace Schwartzentruber dies." The Mennonite 8, no. 8 (19 April 2005).

Author(s) Virginia A Hostetler
Date Published January 2013

Cite This Article

MLA style

Hostetler, Virginia A. "Schwartzentruber, Grace Magdalene (1930-2005)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. January 2013. Web. 1 Oct 2022.,_Grace_Magdalene_(1930-2005)&oldid=143371.

APA style

Hostetler, Virginia A. (January 2013). Schwartzentruber, Grace Magdalene (1930-2005). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 1 October 2022, from,_Grace_Magdalene_(1930-2005)&oldid=143371.

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