Last week I attended the funeral of a former Canadian Mennonite University professor of mine. David Schroeder, affectionately known to his students as Doc Schroeder, was lauded at his memorial service for being a kind and caring person, whose gift of facilitating reconciliation helped to make the Mennonite church more welcoming and accepting.
It was in Doc Schroeder’s New Testament class in the early 1970s that I came to understand the pivotal role women had played in the Biblical story. My final paper was titled Women in the Life of Jesus. Doc Schroeder gave me an A.
Thirty years later I was working as a religion columnist for the Winnipeg Free Press and received a letter from a reader who said the Bible clearly stated that women should be silent on matters of faith. He said it was inappropriate for me to be writing about religion in a newspaper. In reply to my critic I wrote a column about women in the Bible and about Canadian women of faith who had not been silent and had used their voices to bring about positive change in society.
A few days after the column was published I received an e-mail from Doc Schroeder, my former professor, telling me that my article had cheered and delighted him. It felt great to receive such affirmation, especially since it came from the teacher who had first helped me understand the key role women played in the faith stories of the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Listening to the tributes at Doc Schroeder’s funeral it was clear I was only one of many people he had affirmed and supported and encouraged in his lifetime.