Eden Theological Seminary will soon have a female president for the first time in the school’s nearly 170-year history.
The seminary’s board of trustees voted unanimously Tuesday morning to appoint one of its own to the position, Deborah Krause. A professor and former academic dean at Eden, Krause has been a vocal advocate for social justice and racial equity in St. Louis, particularly in the years following Michael Brown Jr.'s death.
The board of trustees conducted a six-month national search involving more than 200 potential candidates before choosing Krause.
A faculty member at Eden since 1992, Krause is an ordained Presbyterian minister and expert on the New Testament. She will succeed President David Greenhaw, who has held the position since 1997 and plans to retire in June.
Greenhaw called Krause a “leader and activist” in the St. Louis community who embodies the mission of the seminary.
“She has become a very strong voice for countering racism and addressing homelessness,” Greenhaw said, adding that Krause has also pushed for greater inclusion of LGBTQ people in the church.
A turning point for Krause came in 2014, after St. Louis police officer Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown Jr. Krause, who calls Brown’s death an “everyday occurrence that turned into an execution,” joined other religious leaders protesting in Ferguson.
“We felt called by God to move into the streets,” Krause said. “That movement has played a formative role in my understanding of what Jesus is calling us to do.”
She was later elected vice president of Metropolitan Congregations United, an interfaith organization dedicated to social justice, and began working closely with local activist Cathy “Mama Cat” Daniels to feed and advocate for the homeless population in St. Louis.
Faith leaders, Krause said, are not only called to spread God’s message, but also to help lift up those who have been marginalized and disempowered.
“The gospel is not merely a spoken message or a proclamation,” Krause said. “It’s something we do, something we carry out in relationship with others.”
As president of the seminary, she said she plans to continue building Eden’s network of progressive Christians and community partners. In recent years, the seminary has launched a number of new initiatives, including a degree in community leadership and a program that helps older adults find fulfilling work after retirement.
She emphasized that her role is part of a much larger movement within seminaries to become centers of progressive leadership. But as a self-described feminist, the historic importance of her appointment isn’t lost on her.
“This is a symbol of the redemptive work of God — that a woman would be elected to this position for the first time,” Krause said. “I am incredibly honored and gratified to be that woman. In some ways, it’s about time.”
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