About Frederick Schmidt

The Reverend Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt, Jr. holds the Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL, and directs the Rueben Job Institute for Spiritual Formation. He is an Episcopal Priest, spiritual director, retreat facilitator, conference leader, writer, and consulting editor at Church Publishing in New York. He is the author of numerous published articles and reviews, as well as several books: A Still Small Voice: Women, Ordination and the Church (Syracuse University Press, 1998), The Changing Face of God (Morehouse, 2000), When Suffering Persists (Morehouse, 2001), in Italian translation: Sofferenza, All ricerca di una riposta (Torino: Claudiana, 2004), What God Wants for Your Life (Harper, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Revelation (Morehouse, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Luke (Morehouse, 2009), and The Dave Test (Abingdon, 2013). He and his wife, Natalie (who is also an academic and an Episcopal priest), live in Highland Park, Illinois, with their Gordon Setter, Hilda of Whitby. They have four children and four grandchildren: Henry, Addie, Heidi, and Sophie.

7 Reasons Why the Church Should Learn to Disagree

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According to experts great and small, we’ve lost our ability to disagree.  Rather than discuss our differences and stay in conversation with one another, we go on the attack.  We belittle, judge, and demonize one another.  And, when all else fails, we walk away.That’s a loss, not just because we are divided into ever smaller tribes of what we imagine are like-minded groups of people, but because there are important reasons to learn how to disagree.What should be troubling to us as Christ … [Read more...]

6 things people need to hear from churches (but are rarely said)

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The recent Pew study on the grown of “Nones” and the “Spiritual But Not Religious” has roiled the church.  But we really shouldn’t be surprised.  We’ve known for a long time now that the apparent “churchiness” of the fifties and sixties was an exception, not the rule.Frankly, I’m not convinced that the statistics charted by Pew are even “a trend.”  It could be argued that Americans are just getting honest about how disenchanted they are with church.Trend or not, the disenchantment can be … [Read more...]

What do you do with doubt?

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What do you do with doubt?The answers to that question are as varied as the history of doubt itself.Some people celebrate the contribution that doubt makes and consider it the hallmark of intellectual maturity.  Halfway through a hefty volume on the history of doubt, Jennifer Hecht cites an old Zen maxim: "Great Doubt: great awakening. Little Doubt: little awakening. No Doubt: no awakening."  On that reading of things, doubt is the engine of enlightenment and insight.At the other end … [Read more...]

10 things your clergy should tell you before you get married

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Behind closed doors clergy often ruefully observe that they would rather officiate at a funeral than preside at a wedding.That sounds harsh, but I’m convinced that it’s because most of us watch in frustration as weddings, as well as marriages, get off on the wrong foot.Here’s what your clergy wants you to know:1. Don't wait for the movie. Save the moment. Snap the pictures. But remember: there’s no substitute for being in the moment…making vows, exchanging rings, and looking one anoth … [Read more...]

12 Things that your Pastor, Priest, or Minister Wishes You Knew

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“Church Pew with Worshippers” | Vincent van Gogh | 1882  1. YOU are a source of encouragement to us. All too often the people in our pews imagine that clergy are islands of devotion – except, of course, when we fail spectacularly and publicly. We aren’t. Like everyone else we draw encouragement from others who are faithful and courageous. You shouldn’t be that way for our sake, of course, but don’t forget, there are days when we draw renewed strength from your example.2. Don’t forge … [Read more...]

7 Life-Changing Reasons You Should Take a Vacation This Summer

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As the semester ends, perhaps this is as good a time as any to reflect -- looking back and looking forward -- to the benefits of both education and travel.  Although they are hardly the same, both should do a number of things:1.  Education and travel should broaden us -- alerting us to the complexity, wonder, and struggle that marks human life. When we go home they should sensitize us to both the shortcomings and the gifts of the places where we live.2.  Education and travel should ch … [Read more...]

PB & J

We’ll be getting the names of the people nominated for Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church in a few hours and people have already named the demands of the task.But I have a sinking feeling that – just as with the election of other national leaders – some of us will fall into the trap of thinking that this election will change everything. There will be conversations about the particular camps into which the candidates fall; their capacity for leadership; and the likely shape of their time … [Read more...]

Dear “Rev”

We sit there Sunday after Sunday.We do our own faith-work, coming to conclusions about what matters and doesn’t, about what we believe and about what we don’t believe.Help us to understand you and help yourself to communicate the Gospel.Please consider the following advice:One: Lose the stained glass language.It’s important to connect our faith to the historical language of the church and we know that much of the vocabulary that you use is a form of shorthand. Clergy, just lik … [Read more...]


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