Kreider, Alan Fetter (1941-2017)

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Alan and Eleanor Kreider, 2010.
Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary photo

Alan Fetter Kreider: missionary, professor, and author, was born 8 November 1941 in Goshen, Indiana, USA to Carl J. Kreider (26 September 1914-7 February 2002) and Mary “Evelyn” Burkholder Kreider (17 November 1914-30 April 2017). He was the oldest child in a family of three sons and one daughter.

Alan grew up in an academic community; his father, Carl, was a professor at Goshen College when Alan was born, and he served as the dean of the college for over 25 years. The family lived in Tokyo, Japan from 1952 to 1956 when Carl Kreider was the first dean of International Christian University. These have been described as formative but difficult years for Alan. He graduated from Goshen College with a BA in history (1962). He earned graduate degrees at Harvard University, with an MA (1965) and a PhD in English history (1971). His dissertation was "The historical setting of the dissolution of the English chantries." Alan also studied at Princeton University (1962-63), Heidelberg University (1963-64), and the University of London (1966-68).

On 19 June 1965 Alan Kreider married Eleanor Graber Nase. Eleanor Louise "Ellie" Graber (16 November 1935- ) was the daughter of Joseph Daniel "J. D." Graber and Minnie Swartzendruber Graber, who were missionaries to India and later mission board leaders. Eleanor completed a BA in music at Goshen College in 1957, and an MA in music in piano performance at the University of Michigan in 1962. She taught piano at Goshen College beginning in 1957. She married Richard Nase (4 September 1936-24 December 1961), a music student she met at Goshen, on 28 June 1958. However, Richard died of leukemia in a little over three years. Their daughter, Joy Ellen Nase (31 December 1959-6 August 1963), also died of cancer. Grief shaped Eleanor's life deeply in those next years. Alan Kreider was one of her friends and conversation partners during this time. Their formal courtship began in 1964, while Alan was studying in Heidelberg. They were married on 19 June 1965, and had one son, Andrew Joseph.

Alan returned to Goshen College to teach history from 1968 to 1972, while Eleanor taught in the music department. Alan and Eleanor then returned to London, England for further research with funding from the American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship. During this time, they embraced a change in focus, after an approach by Wilbert Shenk of the Mennonite Board of Missions (MBM). In 1974 Alan and Eleanor Kreider began providing leadership to the ministry at the London Mennonite Centre, then administered by MBM. For five years Alan remained a quarter time on Goshen College's faculty, teaching both in Goshen and London. Until 1991 Alan and Eleanor provided joint leadership to the London Mennonite Centre. They helped to begin the London Mennonite Fellowship, and on 23 March 1975 Alan was ordained as pastoral leader of the Fellowship.

During these years Alan had opportunity to speak publicly on issues of war, peace, and discipleship, especially during the Falklands War in 1982. This speaking helped to increase interest in Anabaptist theology among Christians in the largely secular English context. In 1992 Alan helped to shape the Anabaptist Network, which brought together a variety of persons from different faith communions. In 1991 Alan and Eleanor moved to Manchester, where he taught at the University of Manchester and was Theologian in Residence at Northern Baptist College. In 1995 they moved to Oxford, where Alan was a fellow at Regent's Park College and served as the first director of the college's Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture. During these years Eleanor was a tutor in worship and liturgy, subjects she had studied at Associated (now) Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary and the University of Notre Dame in 1979.

In 2000 Alan and Eleanor Kreider moved to Elkhart, Indiana, and became travelling mission educators for Mennonite Mission Network (a successor to Mennonite Board of Missions), serving until 2004. At the same time Alan taught as an adjunct professor at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, beginning already in 1997, and joined the faculty as an Associate Professor of Church History and Mission in 2004. He retired in 2009 to devote more time to writing. Eleanor was ordained in November 2010 for her ongoing ministry in the Mennonite Church. Alan Kreider died 8 May 2017 at his home in Goshen, Indiana after being diagnosed in December 2016 with multiple myeloma.

Alan and Eleanor Kreider worked as a team throughout their life together, and gave many joint sermons and presentations. Their contrasting styles worked well together.

Stanley Green of the Mennonite Mission Network said, "Alan was distinguished by a deep and abiding passion for God’s mission that was marked by a sincere thoughtfulness, a profound ecumenicity of spirit, and a gentle and kindly hospitality in his engagement with others."


“Alan Fetter Kreider.” SAGA (Swiss Anabaptist Genealogical Association) Genealogical Website. Web. 23 September 2017.

Bergstresser, Annette Brill. “AMBS professor emeritus remembered for joy, hospitality and winsome faith.” Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary. 10 May 2017. Web. 23 September 2017.

Hochstetler, Kelsey Shue. “Kreider’s fire for Anabaptism lives on.” TheMennonite. 15 May 2017. Web. 16 May 2017.

Kreider, Andrew and David Nussbaum. “Alan and Eleanor Kreider: a biography.” In Forming Christian Habits in Post-Christendom: The Legacy of Alan and Eleanor Kreider, edited by James R. Krabill and Stuart Murray. Harrisonburg, Va.: Herald Press. 2011: 3-16.

“Mennoscope.” Gospel Herald 68, no. 13 (1 April 1975): 256.

Wikipedia contributors. "Alan Kreider." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 20 July 2017. Web. 23 September 2017.

See also the April 2019 issue of Mennonite Quarterly Review which "pay[s] tribute to the life and memory of Alan Kreider" through a series of articles related to his thought.

Books written or edited by Alan and Eleanor Kreider

Kreider, Alan. English Chantries: The Road to Dissolution. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1979; reprinted Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 2012.

Hornus, Jean-Michel. It is not Lawful for me to Fight: Early Christian Attitudes towards War, Violence and the State, rev. ed. Translated by Alan Kreider and Oliver Coburn. Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1980.

Kreider, Alan. Journey Towards Holiness: a Way of Living for God's People. Basingstoke: Marshall Pickering, 1986; Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1987.

Kreider, Eleanor. Enter His Gates: Fitting Worship Together. Basingstoke, England: Marshall Pickering, 1989; Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1990.

Kreider, Alan. Worship and Evangelism in Pre-Christendom. Cambridge: Grove Books, 1995.

Kreider, Eleanor. Communion shapes Character. Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1997. Republished in England as Given for you: a fresh look at communion.Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1998.

Kreider, Alan, and Jane Shaw, eds. Culture and the Nonconformist tradition. (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1999.

--. The Change of Conversion and the Origin of Christendom. Harrisburg, Pa.: Trinity Press International, 1999; reprinted Eugene, Ore.: Wipf & Stock, 2007.

--, and Eleanor Kreider. Becoming a Peace Church. London: New Ground published in association with HHSC Christian Press, 2000; published in Korean translation, 2003.

--, and Stuart Murray, eds. Coming Home: Stories of Anabaptists in Britain and Ireland. Waterloo, Ont.: Pandora Press, 2000.

--, and Donald A. Hay, eds. Christianity and the Culture of Economics. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2001.

--, ed. and contributor. The Origins of Christendom in the West. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2001.

--, and Stephen Darlington, eds. Composing music for worship. Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2003.

--, Eleanor Kreider and Paulus Widjaja. A Culture of Peace: God’s Vision for the Church. Intercourse, Pa.: Good Books, 2005. Published in German translation, 2008.

Boers, Arthur Paul, Eleanor Kreider, et al., eds. Take our Moments and our Days: an Anabaptist Prayer Book. Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 2007.

Kreider, Alan. Social Holiness: A Way of Living for God’s Nation (foreword by Dale M. Coulter, a new edition of Journey Towards Holiness) Eugene, OR.: Wipf and Stock, 2008.

--. Resident But Alien: How the Early Church Grew (6 DVD presentations on 2 discs) Harpenden, Herts, UK: Great Commission Distribution Ltd, 2009; Seattle, WA: YWAM Resources, 2009.

--, and Eleanor Kreider. Worship and Mission After Christendom. Milton Keynes, UK: Paternoster Press, 2009; Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 2011.

Boers, Arthur Paul, Eleanor Kreider, et al., eds. Take our Moments and our Days: an Anabaptist Prayer Book, vol. 2. Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 2010.

--. Catéchèse, baptême et mission: Leçons d’hier pour L’́Êglise aujourd’hui. Textes rassemblés par Michel Sommer. Charols, France: Éditions Excelsis, 2013.

--. The Patient Ferment of the Early Church: The Improbable Rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2016.

A complete bibliography of books and articles written or edited by the Kreiders through 2011 is found in Forming Christian Habits in Post-Christendom: The Legacy of Alan and Eleanor Kreider: 205-225.

Author(s) Sam Steiner
Date Published September 2017

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Steiner, Sam. "Kreider, Alan Fetter (1941-2017)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. September 2017. Web. 18 Oct 2021.,_Alan_Fetter_(1941-2017)&oldid=163971.

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Steiner, Sam. (September 2017). Kreider, Alan Fetter (1941-2017). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 October 2021, from,_Alan_Fetter_(1941-2017)&oldid=163971.

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