A Moment in Time: Rachel Weaver Kreider
Suffering and pain. Struggles. Difficult decisions; difficult times of life. Ninety years ago, that described a fair number of Mennonites in Northern Indiana. Their neighbors had turned on them as unpatriotic during World War I; and then they turned on each other as they made faithfulness to God into a competitive activity with winners and losers.
In the early 1920s, some of these disheartened folks ended up here, at Eighth Street, looking for signs of life and hope. That was the case of Sam and Laura Weaver and their children. Sam had been a public school principal and Mennonite pastor in LaGrange County. He had resigned as principal, in part because he would not promote the sale of war bonds the way his school board demanded. He had resigned as pastor because he would not enforce the sort of dress codes and women’s bonnet styles that his church demanded. “He just didn’t have the stomach for fighting those kinds of fights,” his daughter Rachel recalled.
Rachel was twelve, soon-to-be-thirteen, when her family came here to Eighth Street, and she attended until she had graduated from college. Although her parents mostly took behind-the-scenes roles at this church, Rachel recognized the contentment her parents found here as a kind of resurrection story. The church became a place of loving arms encircling the family. A place of hope reborn for her parents. A place of new life.
Rachel took that hope-filled perspective with her as she left here, first for a teaching job in Wabash County, and then, after marrying Leonard Kreider, to graduate school for both of them. Together they took the hope-filled perspective to their homes in New York, Kansas, and Ohio. Along the way, Rachel collected resurrection stories – surprising, unexpected, and hope-filled stories—and tucked them into her writing, her genealogical pursuits, her peace activism, and her parenting. In 1982, Rachel and Leonard Kreider retired to Goshen and to this congregation. This morning, we acknowledge Rachel Kreider’s work to so carefully document the history of this church, one resurrection story after another. And, of course, we want to acknowledge her long and remarkable life as she celebrates her 104th birthday on Tuesday, May 28.