1924 - 2018 (94 years)
||C. Norman Kraus |
||20 Feb 1924
||6 Apr 2018
C. Norman Kraus, Professor Emeritus of Religion, ordained Mennonite minister, author of books on church history, theology, peacemaking, and social justice, and a lifelong Christian disciple whose teaching took him to countries in Asia, Africa, Australia, and South America, died April 6, 2018 at the age of 94. His family said the cause was congestive heart failure.
Early on Kraus developed an interest in history and religion, particularly that of his Anabaptist faith. He attended Eastern Mennonite College and graduated from Goshen College in 1946 with a bachelor?s degree in Bible. After teaching history at Eastern Mennonite School for several years, he returned to Goshen in 1949 to pursue a seminary degree and teach at Goshen College in the Bible Department. In 1953 he completed a Masters in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, followed by a PhD in Religion from Duke University in 1961. He taught at Goshen College for thirty years, founding and directing a Center for Discipleship program there in 1971 that focused on helping students and lay Christians explore effective discipleship across disciplines and vocations.
In 1980 Norman Kraus and his wife Ruth accepted an assignment from Mennonite Board of Missions to work with the Mennonite churches in Japan. After 18 months of language study in Tokyo, the couple moved to Sapporo, where Kraus lectured and taught for 6 years while also writing a two volume Christology, Jesus Christ Our Lord: Christology from a Disciple?s Perspective and God Our Savior: Theology in a Christological Mode, published first in Japanese and later in English. Among his more recent publications are: An Intrusive Gospel: Christian Mission in the Postmodern World (1998); Using Scripture in a Global Age: Framing Biblical Issues (2006); On being Human: Sexual Orientation and the Image of God (2011); and The Jesus Factor in Justice and Peacemaking (2011).
Born February 20, 1924 in the Warwick River Mennonite Colony, Kraus was raised in the farm village of Denbigh, Virginia, now a part of Newport News. The experience of growing up in a pioneer Mennonite community, whose northern, Pennsylvania-German, pacifistic culture was radically at odds with the martial, post-Civil War ?English? culture of the surrounding Virginia community, profoundly affected his world view. It became his life?s quest to understand the church?s mission of peace and justice and to explore how the visible church could manifest the teachings of Jesus. Kraus taught a model of the church as a ?community of the spirit,? and ?an authentic movement at the grassroots level to promote the personal-social goal of God?s kingdom on earth.? His books The Community of the Spirit (1974) and The Authentic Witness (1979) are among his most widely read.
In 1958, Kraus wrote Integration: Who?s Prejudiced, one of the first public attempts by the Mennonite Church to address its own implicit biases. Raised in the ?Jim Crow? South, he knew firsthand the ?brand of racial attitudes? his church community brought to its involvement with the segregated black community. As he wrote in 2013, revisiting his childhood in the Warwick River Colony, blacks were neighbors and fellow workers on the farm, but ?the intimacies of friendship were strictly limited by the cultural system, no matter what happened in a private setting.?
In Goshen, Indiana, where he settled in 1949 and strict segregationist codes were still the law, he began to take on a role as educator, reporter, protestor, and advocate for racial equity and social justice. Though he never considered himself an ?activist,? while living in Durham, North Carolina from 1959 to 1961, he joined black students at a Roses? lunch counter sit-in and was in the courtroom to support fellow Duke students arrested in the protests.
In 1963 at the request of Mennonite Central Committee, Kraus spent six weeks in Georgia and Tennessee helping leaders better assess whether and how to engage in the nonviolent student movement. There he joined a young Julian Bond for conversation and a cup of coffee and interviewed Ralph Abernathy, who memorably told him that the church?s light had turned out to be a tail light. When Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968, Kraus was asked to lead a march from Goshen College to downtown Goshen and gave the memorial address.
Norman Kraus married Ruth Smith in 1945, and raised a family of five children: Yvonne, Jo Anne, John Norman, Bonnie, and Robert. After his stint in Japan, he retired from Goshen College, moving back to his home state of Virginia to settle in Harrisonburg where he continued teaching part-time, writing, and occasionally preaching. In Harrisonburg, he served as interim pastor at Community Mennonite Church in 1990-91, was a member of the Park View Mennonite Church, and more recently worshipped with the Shalom Mennonite Congregation.
In 1997, Norman lost Ruth, his companion of 52 years to leukemia. In 1998 he married Rhoda Short Hess, who survives him. He is also survived by his five children and their spouses, eight grandchildren, and three great grandchildren. They grieve the loss of his earthly presence while celebrating the great gift of his long, fruitful life. A memorial service will be held on April 28 at 3:00 pm at the Community Mennonite Church, 70 S. High Street, Harrisonburg, Virginia.
||31 Aug 2019 |
||Clyde H. Kraus, b. 05 Jun 1900 c., Denbigh, VA d. 19 Jan 1968 c., Goshen IN |
||Phebe Kraus, b. 26 Jan 1902, Denbigh, VA d. 24 Apr 1967, Denbigh, VA (Age 65 years) |
||6 Dec 1922
||Group Sheet | Family Chart
||Ruth Smith, b. 24 Nov 1919, Lima OH d. 7 Jun 1997, Harrisonburg, VA (Age 77 years) |
||Group Sheet | Family Chart
||4 Jun 2018 |