Stauffer, Elam (1899-1981)

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Elam Stauffer was born 20 January 1899 to Benjamin R. and Fannie Weidman Stauffer in Lancaster County, PA. He married Elizabeth Kauffman on 25 November 1920; she died in Africa on 25 June 1947. Elam married Grace Metzler on 3 June 1949. After study at Millersville State Normal School (Pennsylvania) and teaching two years, he began farming. A chorister and Sunday school teacher in his home congregation, Erisman Mennonite Church, he and Elizabeth also helped in mission outreach at Miners Village.

The Eastern Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities called the Stauffers and John and Ruth Mosemann to be their first overseas missions team. Elam and John were ordained on 19 April 1933. Elam and Orie Miller traveled to Africa to look for a field of service. They decided on Tanganyika (Tanzania). The Stauffers and Mosemanns arrived at Shirati on 26 May 1934. On 5 September 1938 Elam was ordained bishop of the emerging church. During their first furlough the Stauffers studied at Eastern Mennonite College.

From the beginning Elam Stauffer endeavored to avoid institutional missions and to concentrate on self-supporting, self-propagating, self-governing indigenous churches. Within seven years the mission had reached its goal of five stations, but half of those baptized had already left the church. Elam was the leader of both the missionary team and the head of what became the Kanisa la Mennonite Tanzania (Tanzania Mennonite Church). A major component of both roles was his Bible teaching ministry. His family life, his role as counselor, and his ministry in prayer contributed to his effective leadership. In 1964 he recognized it was time for a new generation of leaders to assume responsibility. Having ordained 18 pastors and deacons, he took steps to call the first Tanzanian bishop.

After his retirement in 1964, Elam had oversight of a few Lancaster Conference congregations. Most of his energies were spent in Bible teaching and promoting missions. He died 9 January 1981 at his home in Lancaster.


Brubaker, Dale. "Know Your Bishop.” Youth Messenger (2 March 1969): 4-5.

Hess, Mahlon M. The Pilgrimage of Faith of Tanzania Mennonite Church, 1934-83. Salunga, PA: Eastern Mennonite Board, 1985.

Missionary Messenger special memorial issue (October 1981): 215.

Stauffer, Elam W. "Report of Trip to Find a Location." Missionary Messenger (May 1934): 16-19 (July 1934): 14-18.

Stauffer, Elam W. "Separate unto Me Ezekiel and Andrea." Missionary Messenger (November 1950): 10-11.

Stauffer, Elam W. "Institutions and the Young Indigenous Church." Missionary Messenger (May 1953): 6, 8, 11.

Stauffer, Elam W. "I Commend You to God.” Missionary Messenger (August 1964): 2-4.

Stauffer, Elam W. "Confidence—There Is No Other Way.” Missionary Messenger (January 1978): 6.

Author(s) Mahlon M Hess
Date Published 1989

Cite This Article

MLA style

Hess, Mahlon M. "Stauffer, Elam (1899-1981)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1989. Web. 1 Dec 2021.,_Elam_(1899-1981)&oldid=122598.

APA style

Hess, Mahlon M. (1989). Stauffer, Elam (1899-1981). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 1 December 2021, from,_Elam_(1899-1981)&oldid=122598.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p. 856. All rights reserved.

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