Mission worker/administrator planted seeds of good news on four continents

Erwin Rempel, who served with Mennonite Mission Network and a predecessor agency, Commission on Overseas Mission (COM), from 1975-2009, died June 25

Three months after a cancer diagnosis, Erwin H. Rempel, 76, died June 25, at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Erwin and Angela, his wife of 55 years, served with Mennonite Mission Network and a predecessor agency, Commission on Overseas Mission (COM), on four continents from 1975-2009.

Jack Suderman, former general secretary of Mennonite Church Canada and General Conference Mennonite Church Commission on Overseas Mission worker in Colombia, remembers Erwin as a talented administrator for COM.

“He always had charts and numbers for any discussion on any subject. He never lost sight of the human realities behind the numbers. Mission was not statistics, but statistics helped Erwin understand mission, and he conveyed that to the rest of us. He helped us all reach a new level of careful planning and accountability in mission,” said Suderman.

Stanley Green, former executive director of Mission Network, agrees.

“He brought diligence and a gracious collegiality to his work,” Green said. “Erwin greatly assisted the merger of Mission Network’s three predecessor agencies. He was a bridge person who helped to advance a climate of trust between colleagues who came together from different organizational cultures.”


Maringueth Monteiro and Erwin working on wall in front of newly acquired (1977) house for the Gama Mennonite Church. Erwin worked with the youth to make benches, transform wooden fruit crates into colorful benches for children, paint walls and ceilings. (Photo source: Mennonite Mission Network.)

Group in Cidade Ocidental in early church plant. From left, Cesarina and husband, Joao Alcantara (with mouth harp), Erwin, Paulo Henrique de Souza (with guitar) and Mourival Monteiro. Paulo and Mourival were from the Gama church and helped in the Sunday afternoon services in the city 10 miles away in the home of Joao/Cesarina. (Photo source: Mennonite Mission Network.)



Erwin also helped build the foundation for cooperation between Mennonite Church Canada International Witness and Mennonite Mission Network. 

Angela and Erwin served in Brazil from 1975-1982. Following this assignment, Erwin assumed the role of COM’s executive secretary in the Newton, Kansas, office from 1982-1994. Starting in June 1994, the Rempels worked as co-directors of Mennonite Ministries in Botswana for six years, in a joint assignment with Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission, COM and Mennonite Central Committee (MCC).

“The Rempels’ service in Africa with COM, MCC and AIMM was seamless,” said Kathy Fast, former Mennonite Central Committee country director in Botswana. “They provided a great understanding of international partners and the cooperation between the different agencies.”

The Rempels returned to Newton in 2000, where Erwin helped with the integration of the General Conference Mennonite Church and Mennonite Church mission agencies. Until his retirement in 2008, he served with the new Mennonite Mission Network. A few months after Erwin retired, he and Angela had their most adventurous “unexpected invitation” to ministry. Their skills were requested for a two-month assignment in Afghanistan, where a mission worker had been taken hostage.

In 2011, Angela and Erwin moved to Harrisonburg, where they became members of Ridgeway Mennonite Church. Erwin applied his administrative skills to support a variety of Ridgeway’s ministries. The Rempels moved to Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community in 2017.

Read the Mennonite Mission Network article for where to direct memorial gifts.