Peter Kehler, long-time Mennonite missionary, pastor and church worker of Abbotsford, B.C., died Oct. 5, surrounded by his family. He was 89.
Kehler was born in St. Anne, Man., on June 20, 1927, to Cornelius Peter and Margareta (Epp) Kehler. His early years were spent on farms in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. In 1945, his family settled in British Columbia, where he assisted his father on the farm and completed high school.
He married Lydia Pankratz at East Chilliwack Mennonite Church—now Eden Mennonite Church—in 1952. This marriage produced five children: David, Peter, Dennis, Judy and Darlene.
After Kehler took teacher training in Vancouver, he and Lydia attended Bethel College in North Newton, Kan. They returned to B.C. in 1956 to pastor Vancouver Mennonite Mission Church, later known as 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 (now Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary) in Elkhart, Ind., they left for Taiwan in 1959. In Taipei they were instrumental in planting Sung-Chiang Mennonite Church.
After serving as missionaries in Taiwan for 16 years, the Kehlers settled in Abbotsford in 1975. Two years later, they moved to Newton, Kan., where he accepted the position of secretary for Asia for the General Conference Mennonite Church Commission on Overseas Mission (COM).
His first wife preceded him in death in 1978. Two years later, he married Susan Martens, a long-time friend of the family who had also served with COM in Taiwan. After their marriage, the Kehlers worked in Newton, where they lived until 1985, when they moved to Abbotsford, where Kehler became the conference minister for the Conference of Mennonites in B.C., now Mennonite Church B.C.
Even after retirement, the couple continued their shared passion for serving God and the church, ministering to many people and in a variety of roles in B.C., including assisting with Bible study and teaching English-as-a-second-language classes at White Rock Mennonite Christian Fellowship, a congregation of Taiwanese immigrants. They also served in Ukraine and Taiwan. Kehler also served on the board of directors of Mennonite Christian Hospital in Hualien, Taiwan.