To our great surprise and sorrow, 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. Please join us as we celebrate this great woman of faith.
My first few years of seminary were challenging. With only one full time woman on faculty, and little overt support for women’s theological leadership, you can imagine my delight to attend chapel one morning to hear the articulate, biblically astute, Dr. Catherine Kroeger speak in clear terms of the scriptural call to use one’s gifts, regardless of gender. Longing for more of Catherine, I walked out of chapel and sensed God was leading me to develop a plan that might make a difference for women like me.
As a member of my seminary’s student council, I wondered, What if we collected resumés of scholars like Catherine and presented them as essential hires to the seminary? I tucked away this idea.
Several months later, I ran into Catherine again, this time at Harvard. She was studying an ancient Egyptian dialect. We were both waiting for the library to open. My moment had come. I walked up to her and asked, “Are you Catherine Kroeger?” Turning quickly to acknowledge me, she bent forward and fixed her brilliant blue eyes on me and said, “Well yes I am. And, I have a sandwich. Will you share it with me?” With less than five seconds of knowing me, she was prepared to give me her time, lunch, and fullest attention. We talked for hours, and she agreed to send me her resumé.
Months later, I was with family, across the country, celebrating Christmas Eve. The phone rang, and my mother said to me, “Someone named Catherine Kroeger is on the phone.” How exciting, I thought. But, how did she find my phone number? “Mimi!” she exclaimed. “I’ve been asked to lead a summer course. I thought you’d like to know.”
I was the first to enroll in her class, along with the chair of Christian thought—that’s Bible and theology combined! You can imagine his surprise when, mid way through the course, a student eight months pregnant became faint during class. Cathie very calmly walked over to her and said, “I think you will feel better if you put your head down. I’ve had five children myself, and dizziness is very common.” With the grace of a dancer, Cathie lowered her to the ground and asked others to fetch pillows, a blanket, and her husband. Within a few minutes, the student was much recovered and on her way home, on her husband’s arm. Cathie then picked up her Greek Bible and resumed her lecture. Walking out of her class that morning, the chair of Christian thought pulled me aside and said, “Mimi, she needs to work here permanently!” And, within one year, she was hired as adjunct faculty. During her memorial service at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, student after student offered lasting testimony to the impact of Catherine’s life and scholarship in shaping their faith, vocation, and intellectual achievements. It was indeed one of the best hires they made! —Mimi Haddad
I knew Cathie for nearly 30 years…What a special friend!…[She was] always laughing, always “way ahead” in her thinking and planning. “O Lord, do hug Cathie in heaven for us, and may we be bold and joyous, even in our grief, to carry on her vision way beyond today. Hold her family tight, in Jesus’ name. Amen.” —Lorraine Cleaves Anderson
Cathie’s books were a key instrument in confirming and defending my call to ordained ministry. Praise God for such a tireless pioneer for women and biblical equality. May her family be comforted and supported at this difficult time. —Rev. Carlene Appel
“Cathie…[went] back to graduate school to wrestle with the language, content, and interpretation of the biblical teaching on women” (From Women Elders…Called by God? written by Richard and Catherine Kroeger). I can’t even begin to describe how important it was for me to read these words back when I had the seed of a dream to do exactly that. I’m thankful to CBE for first introducing me to Dr. Kroeger’s writings, which, along with her example, had a huge impact on my life. I’m now in a Master of Theological Studies program with plans to pursue my PhD. I’m deeply saddened by her loss and extend my sympathy and prayers to her family and loved ones. —Caroline Schleier Cutler
I am so saddened to hear of Cathie’s passing. I have her picture on my desk—copied from a CBE newletter—teaching away…as she always did. I keep it there to remind myself that although at times I feel “too old” to do much good, I can keep on as Catherine did. Her simple faithfulness is such an example to me. “Never give up” seemed to be her motto. There was always more to be done, more needs to meet, more people with whom to share the good news. I count it one of the greatest honors in my life to have known her from the founding days of CBE. She greatly encouraged me to continue in my work for women who are abused, and I hope as I continue to age (God-willing) that I will have her energy and joy. She will be greatly missed at my alma mater, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, and in the CBE world community. Rest in the arms of Jesus, dear friend. —Margaret Josephson Rinck
I am so incredibly sad to hear about Catherine. Though I never met her in person, working with her over email (as a CBE intern and the Arise editor) was one of the most inspiring things about my job. Her persistence and powerful words encouraged me and strengthened me to stand on the ground she’s paved for me and my future. I am ever grateful for her work here on earth. —Caroline Park
To share your own memories of Cathie, email us at email@example.com.