In 1929 the Pankratz family moved to Foam Lake, Saskatchewan. Lydia was baptized on 1 June 1944 in the Parkerview Mennonite Church, Fitzmaurice, Saskatchewan by Jacob J. Nickel, and in 1948 the family moved to Chilliwack, British Columbia. In her teens Lydia felt God's call to foreign missions. She prepared by studying at Rosthern Bible School and Canadian Mennonite Bible College, Winnipeg, Manitoba. There she met Peter Kehler, who shared the call to mission work.
Lydia and Peter Kehler were married at the East Chilliwack Mennonite Church (now Eden Mennonite Church) on 29 June 1952. After Peter took teachers' training in Vancouver, Lydia and Peter went to Bethel College. They returned to BC in 1956 to pastor the Vancouver Mennonite Mission Church (later Mountainview Mennonite Church). While there, they received an invitation from the General Conference Mennonite Church Board of Missions to go to Taiwan as missionaries. After a year at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries, Elkhart, Indiana, they left for Taiwan in 1959.
Lydia was a faithful and committed co-worker in ministry with her husband, both in Canada and in Taiwan. She was a gracious and thoughtful hostess whose smile and home-baked refreshments awaited everyone who came to her home, whether a fellow missionary who wanted to chat or a group of Taiwanese pastors coming together for a business meeting. Lydia spoke the Taiwanese language well and loved the people of Taiwan. She used her gifts to supervise a church kindergarten, lead Bible studies, teach English Bible classes, play the organ for Sunday school, and visit people in the community. Lydia and Peter became associate members of the Ta-Tung and Sung-Chiang Mennonite Churches in Taipei.
In Taiwan, Lydia also tutored her sons in the early years of their schooling, helped with Pioneer Girls at the school her daughters attended, co-edited The Taiwan Home Bond, and helped plan Women's Prayer Retreats for missionaries and other English-speaking women. Although busy in the church and community, Lydia gave her time, interest and a listening ear to her five children.
After serving as missionaries to Taiwan for 16 years, with two furloughs (1964-66 and 1971-72), Lydia and Peter settled in Abbotsford, BC. In 1977, they moved to Newton, Kansas, where Peter was working for the General Conference Mennonite Church Commission on Overseas Missions at the time of Lydia's death. Lydia's warm personality and life of service were an example and an inspiration to many who knew and loved her.
Sprunger, Janet. "Lydia Kehler—A Tribute." Der Bote (13 March 1979). (Also printed in The Mennonite in March 1979).
Personal papers and family documents with Peter Kehler in Abbotsford, BC.
|Author(s)||Shirley Hildebrand Hsu|
|Date Published||April 2002|
 Cite This Article
Hsu, Shirley Hildebrand. "Kehler, Lydia (Pankratz) (1927-1978)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. April 2002. Web. 7 Mar 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Kehler,_Lydia_(Pankratz)_(1927-1978)&oldid=92252.
Hsu, Shirley Hildebrand. (April 2002). Kehler, Lydia (Pankratz) (1927-1978). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 7 March 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Kehler,_Lydia_(Pankratz)_(1927-1978)&oldid=92252.
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