The Works and Words of a Prophetess

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Roberta and Harold Kreider and two daughters in Hannibal, Missouri in 1956

In my last post I mentioned my admiration for Roberta Showalter Kreider. Her husband Harold Krieder and I were in Civilian Public Service together in Gulfport, Mississippi.  When Richard and Gail Kling and Rhoda and I traveled to the west coast in 1956, our route took us to visit the Kreiders in Hannibal, Missouri  where Harold served as the pastor of the Mennonite Mission.

Since posting the last blog I did some research on the internet, and I found the Kreiders’ telephone number and called them.  We had an interesting conversation.  I told Roberta that I was about to post a blog on my website in which I proposed to call her a modern day prophetess. She was ahead of her times and was an unwelcome witness in the Mennonite Church  She chuckled and I understood her to say that I may call her whatever I want to.

Roberta and Harold Kreider

Roberta and Harold Kreider

Roberta’s interest in the Gay community began with the death of her brother due to AIDS infection.  At first she felt that she needed to expose gay behavior as sin.  But when the Franconia Conference disciplined the Germantown Mennonite Church she changed her mind and began to speak out in support of gays and lesbians in spite of the opposition of her church and family.

It seems to me that Roberta spoke a prophetic word  on “Searching for Truth” in an Oregon venue. Readers who persist in following this link   may find the text of her speech.  In it Roberta disclosed the genesis of a pamphlet in which she gives fifteen reasons why she changed her mind.

This morning I spoke briefly of this blog to the Samhedrin, a group of retired professionals in this area. After the meeting, one of the men told me that he is reading previously unread books on his shelves and that he had just discovered and read, Fifteen Reasons Why I have Changed my Mind. We were pleased by the coincidence.

Roberta and her publisher

Roberta and her publisher

Roberta’s first book was an anthology of faith stories told by gay and lesbian Christians, Catholic, and Jews. Her publisher wrote in the preface of her book that  “In February of this year, I received a phone call … which began something like this: ‘My name is Roberta Kreider. I am a 72-year-old woman in rural Pennsylvania. My husband is a retired minister in the Mennonite Church. I have a book I hope you will be interested in publishing.’ ”

The publisher said he was skeptical at first, but became captivated by Roberta’s energy, faith, and vision. Her prophetic vision caused her to believe that people’s minds will be changed about homosexuality by getting to know lesbian and gay people of faith and hearing their stories. Roberta’s first book, From Wounded Hearts: Faith Stories of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered People and Those Who Love Them, was published in 1998 at age 72.

To be continued

About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
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1 Response to The Works and Words of a Prophetess

  1. Glenda Landis says:

    I am a subscriber to your blog which I enjoy & eagerly check out as it arrives in my email box.
    I had just made a note to myself to inform Roberta that you had mentioned her in the previous issue, only to see this column where you recognize her as a prophetic voice. Thank you for calling her work to our attention! She has been a teacher to me through her work and helped to prepare my heart for the time when people close to me “came out” to live freely as God made them.

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