Faith Mennonite Church in Newton, Kansas, in the fall of 2013 ran a Wednesday evening series on the formation of Christian faith in the various stages of life starting with questions to the elementary school children in the first session and ending ten weeks later with reflections from a panel of those over eighty. Robert S. Kreider, a member of the congregation since 1975, made his contribution to the series as the Sunday morning sermon on September 15 that is presented here in text and audio, adumbrating out of his more than ninety years of experience some of the events, spiritual guides, and influences that have shaped his Christian faith.
Kreider has served as a visionary leader for church and school agencies and as a mentor to many, many students and colleagues. He was born in 1919 in Sterling, Illinois, and spent his youth in three Mennonite college towns, Goshen, Indiana, Bluffton, Ohio, and North Newton, Kansas. Drafted in 1941, he served in various administrative roles in Civilian Public Service. In May 1945 in line with those duties he met Lois Sommer and they were married at the end of the year. Together they helped to initiate Mennonite Central Committee work in postwar Germany. After finishing a Ph. D. in History at the University of Chicago, Kreider taught history at Bluffton College in Ohio, eventually moving into the office of dean and then president. Later he finished his career at Bethel College, teaching history and peace studies and serving as editor of Mennonite Life1. He lives in retirement across the street from the college in a three-generation household that includes graduating Bethel College senior Ben Kreider.
How does one sum up the influences on Christian faith from life that stretches back almost to the ending of the Great War? As a preacher Kreider lists impressions of inspiration and loss along the way that readers should read as an invitation to compile their own similar catalog from what will inevitably be a shorter or much shorter chronology. A click on the audio link below allows the listener to hear the poet reading his own poetry.