Bio

Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church. Deeply involved in the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements, she entered the University of Chicago Divinity School in 1969, earning a Master’s Degree in 1971. She was one of the first women ministers in the United Church of Christ in the early 1970s, and was a key figure in the feminist movement within the Church and within campus ministry during the 1970s, when she was first Assistant Pastor of the First Congregational Church of Tucson, AZ, and then Associate Pastor of Tabernacle Church in Philadelphia (also a chaplain at the University of Pennsylvania). She was a key player in Campus Ministry Women, as well as women’s groups within the United Church of Christ.

From 1976-1980 she served as Associate Chaplain of Yale University, as well as Associate Pastor of the Church of Christ in Yale. She was the first woman in each of these posts, as she was the first woman minister of the First Congregational Church of Amherst, MA, from 1980-1983. She then went to Chicago to be the first Executive Director of the Urban Academy in Chicago (now known as the Center for Public ministry). In that position she struggled to change seminary education to include training in urban, public ministry, as well as more private pastoral ministry. She did that from 1983-1987. Then she became the first woman minister of the First Congregational Church of Riverhead, NY on Long Island, where she stayed until 1993. She then became the first woman Area Minister for the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ, with responsibility for 107 churches in the four western counties of MA. In 2000, she became the first female Senior Minister of the Coral Gables Congregational Church, possibly the largest church headed by a woman in the denomination. Her correspondents include many of the most important socially involved ministers in her denomination, as well as religious editors and writers across the country.

For 25 years in ministry she has been one of the best known feminist civil rights and peace advocates in the church. She is one of the most sought-after preachers and speakers in the United Church of Christ. She edited the UCC’s newsletter for peace and justice ministries for 4 years in the 1990s.

Donna Schaper is also one of the most widely published women ministers in the country, especially within the mainline church. Since the late 1980s, she has had 29 books published on everything from becoming 40, to understanding Sabbath, to spiritual rock gardening, to the differences between male and female ministerial styles, to devotional guides to different Christian seasons (Advent, Lenten, and the like), and most recently, from Nation Books, GRASSROOTS GARDENING: RITUALS TO SUSTAIN ACTIVISTS. This is without counting the hundreds of sermons she has written in this time. The papers contain many draft manuscripts, as well as the complete manuscript of one (unpublished) novel, “The Broken Bell.” They also contain all of her journals, more than 20 years’ worth of reflections, poetry, ideas for sermons, articles, and books.

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