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’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’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