To our great surprise, our first president, beloved leader, and founder of Christians for Biblical Equality, Dr. Catherine Clark Kroeger, contracted pneumonia and died suddenly on Monday, February 14, 2011. If you are like me, you may find this news entirely out of character with Cathie. For so many of us, Cathie was the embodiment of unsinkable human vitality.
A member of the faculty at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and founder and president of PASCH (Peace and Safety in the Christian Home), Catherine was mother to five, grandmother to ten, foster mother to many more, and mentor to hundreds of students and leaders around the world. The scope of her leadership and scholarly achievement was far-reaching. With research interests centered on gender, Cathie published more than ten volumes and hundreds of academic and popular articles. She also offered a hand in the scholarly and popular publication of numerous manuscripts through her students and colleagues.
Together with eight others, Cathie drafted CBE’s founding manifesto—“Men, Women, and Biblical Equality”—a document that has shaped the gender policies and practices of hundreds of churches and several prominent evangelical organizations and denominations. With her daughter Betty Elliott, Cathie launched an academic journal, Priscilla Papers, which, under the leadership of Gretchen Gaebelein Hull, became the scholarly publication of Christians for Biblical Equality. The journal has since received nine publishing awards with editors Carol R. Thiessen and William David Spencer.
A world-renowned speaker, Cathie traveled the globe, opposing violence and the abuse of women, while also advancing the biblical basis for the shared leadership and authority of males and females. Standing in the legacy of great evangelical leaders like Dr. Katharine Bushnell (1856–1946), Cathie offered an indomitable challenge to the hegemony of male authority which, when coupled with female submission, too often leads to abuse. Like Bushnell, Cathie worked to oppose abuse and to teach the biblical basis for the equal value, dignity, and worth of humans, as male and female.
Since Cathie’s death, I’ve held tearful communication with CBE members around the globe. They are confused as to why God would call Cathie home while she had yet to complete her vital manuscripts, including an important book on headship. The wisdom of God is, at times, impenetrable. Only with faith can we accept her passing, in what seemed like the zenith of her labors. However, if one could call Cathie on the phone and ask her advice, as so many did each day. I’m sure she would jump to her feet and exhort us to dry our eyes, have a talk with Jesus, go for a good walk, and resume our ministries. Cathie would want us to move forward the projects she cared for deeply. She would also call us to celebrate the joyful opportunities of serving others through our vocations and God-given gifts.
She leaves us with her scholarship, as well as the organizations and causes she loved and gave so much of herself to advance. She also leaves us with a powerful memory of herself, reflecting our Lord, who rose early in the morning; gained strength and focus through prayer; and worked compassionately, strategically, and arduously to rescue the lost and hurting.
Because Cathie invested so much of her talent and time empowering Christian leaders as change agents, CBE established The Cathie Kroeger Leadership Fund to help equip the next generation of egalitarian leaders. Join us in honoring Cathie Kroeger, CBE founder, president emerita, classics scholar, friend, and advocate of biblical equality by donating to this fund.
Please keep Cathie’s family, colleagues, students, and friends in your prayers during this time of grieving.
We are collecting comments, thoughts, and reflections on Cathie’s life. If you would like to contribute, please send your words to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mimi Haddad is President of Christians for Biblical Equality.