Schroeder, Susanna Theresa Nickel (1888-1966)
Although Susanna Nickel, born to Russian Mennonite parents in Mountain Lake, MN, "always felt like a missionary at heart" and dreamed of service in India, she never left North America. In 1910 Susanna, known as Susie, married Peter Reuben Schroeder, who was later to become a prominent General Conference Mennonite Church leader and vocal critic of "modernism." The Schroeders were married while studying at Bethel College in Newton, KS, the first married couple to attend the school. After Peter's graduation, Susie threw her energies into Christian service as a pastor's spouse. They served congregations in Berne, IN, Freeman, SD, and Mountain Lake, MN. Since Peter traveled a great deal on behalf of the conference, Susie carried heavier responsibility for parenting their four daughters—Celeste (d. 1968), Vernelle, Louise (d. 1943) and Esther Ruth.
Shortly after moving to Mountain Lake Peter died at age 52 after a brief illness (1941). Besides facing the loss of a spouse, Susie had to face the loss of her "vocation" as pastor's wife. The following year the Bethel congregation in Mountain Lake invited her to serve as a paid "church worker." For the next ten years she visited the sick and young mothers, wrote conference reports for the pastors, taught adult Bible school, Sunday school, and teacher training classes and updated church records.
Throughout her life her commitment to missions remained strong. She served as secretary of the Women's Missionary Association of the General Conference Mennonite Church from 1926 to 1928; encouraged her sister, Helen, and daughter, Vernelle, who were able to serve in India; assisted the relief committee in Mountain Lake in sending huge shipments of food and clothing to those in need; and wrote in her will, "And girls, remember missions."
Dehnert, Celeste Schroeder. "Peter R. Schroeder—Pastor and Conference Worker." Mennonite Life 4 (July 1949).
Koontz, Bessie B. Refreshing Rays from Western Slopes. Newton, KS: Allen Publishing Co., 1965.;
Lehman, Naomi. Pilgrimage of a Congregation. Berne, IN: First Mennonite Church, 1982.
Schroeder, Mrs. P. R. "My Memoirs." Manuscript compiled by Celeste Schroeder Dehnert, Mennonite Library and Archivews [North Newton, KS], 1964.
Unrau, Ruth. Encircled: Stories of Mennonite Women Newton, KS: Faith and Life, 1986: 101-114.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p. 800. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Koontz, Gayle Gerber. "Schroeder, Susanna Theresa Nickel (1888-1966)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1989. Web. 25 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/S3762.html.
APA style: Koontz, Gayle Gerber. (1989). Schroeder, Susanna Theresa Nickel (1888-1966). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 25 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/S3762.html.