Schroeder, David Kehler (1924-2015)

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David Schroeder, 1968.
Source: Mennonite Heritage Centre Archives 491.0675

David K. “Doc” Schroeder: theologian and college professor, was born 20 September 1924 near Altona, Manitoba, Canada to Heinrich H. Schroeder (8 January 1888-23 January 1974) and Maria Kehler Schroeder (3 August 1890-30 January 1978); he was the eighth child in a family of 11 children. The family was a member of the Sommerfeld Mennonite Church. On 25 June 1949, David married Mildred Alice Bartel (17 June 1924- ), daughter of Hugo Bartel (17 September 1893-6 June 1982) and Maria Funk Bartel (6 December 1892-1 December 1958). David and Mildred had two daughters, Dorothy and Lynette, and one son, Alan. David died 27 September 2015 in Winnipeg, Manitoba; he is buried at the Mennonite Memorial Gardens in Winnipeg.

As a teenager, David became active in the southern Manitoba co-operative movement which instilled in him a vision for “practical” Christian faith worked out in daily life. During World War II, David, as a convinced conscientious objector, defended this position himself in court, rather than relying on his Sommerfelder bishop to speak for him. He performed his alternative service during the war at the St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg.

While working in Winnipeg, David became active in the Bethel Mennonite Mission, the first English-language Mennonite congregation in Winnipeg. It had attracted many Mennonites from rural southern Manitoba who had come to work and live in Winnipeg, and had grown to a congregation of over 200 members in the early 1950s. After earning a BTh degree at Mennonite Brethren Bible College and a BA at Bethel College, North Newton, Kansas in 1951, David Schroeder became the pastor of the Bethel Mennonite Mission congregation and was ordained as a minister.

David Schroeder’s career as a pastor was cut short, however, when he contracted polio during an epidemic in Winnipeg in fall 1953. He was told by doctors he could not work for five years, so he diverted his focus in an academic direction. He completed a MDiv at Mennonite Biblical Seminary (then located in Chicago) in 1956, and a ThD at the University of Hamburg in 1959 where he studied with Leonhard Goppelt and Helmut Thielicke. His dissertation was titled “Die Haustafeln des Neuen Testaments : (ihre Herkunft und ihr theologisches Sinn),“ a study of the household codes in the New Testament.

David Schroeder then began a long career (1959-1994) at Canadian Mennonite Bible College in Winnipeg (now part of Canadian Mennonite University). He was a popular and stimulating teacher who students affectionately called “Doc” Schroeder. He combined a gentle nature with the ability to reflect creatively on complex issues facing the church. He was also know as a revered mentor and counsellor of students. His ability to relate to persons from many educational levels made him a popular speaker in Mennonite congregations throughout Canada. In that spirit he wrote several popular Bible study guides for use in private study. His approach was rooted in a biblical theology that found a path outside the Fundamentalist-Liberal conflict, and had an affinity with the “recovery-of-the-Anabaptist-vision” movement within the larger Mennonite world.

David Schroeder also cared about family. For over 50 years he lived in a four-generation household, and he published a genealogy of the Schroeder family in 2006.

Harry Huebner, one of Schroeder’s students and later a colleague, said, “[David] refused to give simple answers to difficult problems because he believed in the capacity of people to hear the voice of the Spirit…. Churches across the Mennonite world sought not only his biblical knowledge, but his wisdom in bringing issues of the times into interaction with the biblical narrative in ways that often resulted in that ‘a-ha’ moment.”


“CMBC Bible Prof mentored many.” Mennonite World Review 93, no. 21 (12 October 2015): 25.

"David K. ‘Doc’ Schroeder." GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 16-01 ed. Fresno, CA: " California Mennonite Historical Society, 2016: #427522.

“David Schroeder.” Winnipeg Free Press (30 September 2015). Web. 18 July 2016.

Kilbrei, Kevin. “Remembering the man who was ‘Doc’.” Canadian Mennonite 19, no. 21 (26 October 2015): 20.

Sawatsky, Rodney. “Words becoming flesh: the life and thought of David Schroeder.” In The Church as Theological Community: Essays in honour of David Schroeder, edited by Harry Huebner. Winnipeg, Man.: Canadian Mennonite Bible College, 1990: 3-21.

Books by and about David Schroeder

Huebner, Harry John, ed. The Church as theological community : essays in honour of David Schroeder. Winnipeg : CMBC Publications, 1990.

Schroeder, David. Learning to know the Bible. Newton, Kan. : Faith and Life Press, 1966.

Schroeder, David. Invited to faith. Elgin, Ill. : Brethren Press, 1981.

Schroeder, David. Anleitung zum Bibelstudium. Winnipeg : CMBC Publications, 1984.

Schroeder, David. Faith refined by fire : First Peter. Newton, Kan. : Faith and Life Press, 1985.

Schroeder, David. Getting to know Jesus : Mark. Newton, Kan. : Faith and Life Press, 1992.

Schroeder, David & Huebner, Harry John, eds. Church as parable : whatever happened to ethics? Winnipeg : CMBC Publications, 1993.

Schroeder, David. How to read the Bible: building skills for Bible study : Bible-based explorations of issues facing youth. Newton, Kan. : Faith & Life Press, 1996.

Schroeder, David. Authority in the church and world. Winnipeg : Mennonite Church Canada, 2000.

Schroeder, David. The ancestors of Heinrich and Maria (Kehler) Schroeder 1888-1974. Winnipeg : David Schroeder, 2006.

Author(s) Samuel J Steiner
Date Published July 2016

Cite This Article

MLA style

Steiner, Samuel J. "Schroeder, David Kehler (1924-2015)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. July 2016. Web. 22 Jul 2024.,_David_Kehler_(1924-2015)&oldid=165512.

APA style

Steiner, Samuel J. (July 2016). Schroeder, David Kehler (1924-2015). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 July 2024, from,_David_Kehler_(1924-2015)&oldid=165512.

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