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Pastor, teacher, friend: COM worker Daniel Peters passes

Elma and Daniel Peters

March 24, 2003
-by Dorothy and John Friesen

Winnipeg, Man.— Daniel D. Peters, 75, died on 23 February 2003 after months of failing health. For the past several years Dan and Elma, his wife of fifty years, made their home in Winkler, Manitoba.

Dan and Elma were called by the General Conference Mission Board, later the Commission on Overseas Mission (COM), to serve the Mennonite settlements near Cuauhtemoc, Mexico. Starting in 1956, Dan taught in the Hoffnungsau private elementary school in Cuauhtemoc for several years. His interest in Mexico had been awakened during a year of teaching in the Mennonite colony of Santa Clara, 1950-51, under the Mennonite Central Commmittee voluntary service program. .

During an interlude in Canada in the early 1960s, Dan was ordained to the ministry by his home church while studying at Canadian Mennonite Bible College. In 1963 Dan and his family returned to Mexico and settled in Steinreich, a tiny Mennonite village. By this time they had four daughters.

In Steinreich Dan and Elma taught at a newly established elementary school, started a church, and founded a Bible School. Dan supervised the construction of facilities for each of these ministries. For a short time Dan’s interest in agriculture led him to own a few animals and demonstrate alternative farming methods on field plots.

In order for the elementary school to serve more students, Dan and Elma opened their home to eight or ten students during the week who, because of distance could not travel to school daily. Later around 1971, at Dan and Elma’s initiative, a children’s home (Kinderheim) for about thirty students was built on the site.

In 1975 Dan and Elma were transferred by COM to the village of Burwalde in the Swift Colony where they lived and served for the next ten years. Here they pioneered a new conference church and erected a new church building. They completed their work for COM in 1985.

In his thirty years of service Dan was a pastor, a teacher, and a friend to many. He had a vision for the church and trained local leaders. He preached the gospel, baptized, served communion, counseled, chaired meetings, and conducted choirs. He taught elementary school, Sunday school, and Bible school.

Elma was insightful and creative, a good organizer and resourceful planner. She was equal to the multiple roles she chose as well those given to her.

Throughout the years that COM entrusted Dan and Elma to be disciples of Christ among Mennonites in Mexico, they served faithfully and conscientiously. Their work in the church, in schools and in the Bible school is ongoing and continues to be a blessing to many.