It was with a heavy heart that I received the news yesterday that David Scholer had passed away. Dr. Scholer was a truly remarkable man, remarkable most in his kindness, gentleness, and humility. A brilliant mind is not always fueled by a generous spirit, but David Scholer was that beautiful example of when it is, and his life, one marked by pain and challenge these last years, was one so generously lived toward service to others.
I remember during my undergrad years at North Park hearing over and over again about his “Women, Bible and the Church” class, and I always regretted not taking it. At Fuller, I thought surely I would have the chance to take his Fuller version of that course, but sadly again, that opportunity never came.
While I may not have directly sat through his teaching in the classroom, I know that my life in ministry has been deeply impacted by his work. How many times I have heard: “I was on the other side of the women in ministry issue until I came across David Scholer’s work on the subject…” or something to that effect. Many, many people credit him and his scholarship as crucial in their acceptance of women as fully gifted and called to serve and lead in the church.
I have always felt a debt of gratitude for that.
Just last week I was, for the first time in my years in ministry, put in a position where I was asked to defend my right to preach and teach. The very fact that this felt so awkward and unusual for me speaks volumes to the levels of affirmation and acceptance I have received throughout my calling, and again, I owe much of that to the ministry of David Scholer.
I of course ran into David and his wife, Jeannette, on occasion during my years at Fuller, and they always extended such kindness to me. One particular afternoon comes to mind as an example of this.
I had come onto campus to collect my Hebrew coursework toward the end of my degree. Mercy was maybe one, and Aaron was already big in my belly. I was weary and frazzled, and a bit frustrated as it had taken me several tries to hunt down this particular professor and our coursework, and Mercy was becoming fussy. My hunt had eventually led me to the office where Jeanette works, and my heart sank as I saw through the windows that everyone in the office was gathered for some sort of celebration.
“Great,” I thought to myself. “Now I get to try and maneuver a squirrely child and my own awkward self through this nice gathering, and I’m not even sure who in this office I am supposed to talk with or why my Hebrew papers are here in the first place!”
I opened the door and quickly apologized for the interruption and said I was happy to come back later (which actually was not true since I had driven in from L.A. and was not sure when I could make it out again). Jeanette reassured me that it was no trouble, so I asked about the elusive prof and her coursework. A staff member got up and started looking, and David looked at me and said: “Please, sit down and join us for some cake.”
I was hesitant to sit but in reality was happy for an excuse to get off my feet. So at David’s urging, I sat in their circle, and he continued to lead their time as if no interruption had taken place: as if my presence was in no way awkward or strange. Everyone was kind toward Mercy too, and that discomfort that can come from bringing a little one into an adult setting was relieved. I ate some cake, Mercy played, and I even got a hold of my Hebrew assignment by the end.
David will be remembered and celebrated for so many things. I will remember his gentle hospitality that afternoon, and I will celebrate a man who was so very good at making sure someone on the outside was given a seat at the table.