The Reverend Elizabeth H. Schrader
The Reverend Elizabeth H. Schrader
Let us remember with thanksgiving the life and ministry of Rev. Elizabeth H. “Betty” Schrader, 68, who passed away on Thursday, April 1, 2021. Daughter of Norma Mae (Pratt) and Charles Moore Schrader, she was born in Michigan and raised in Stratford, CT.
Betty grew up at the Stratford United Methodist Church, where she learned to cook and bake with her mother for church dinners and bake sales. Stratford UMC was also where she found her calling to the ordained ministry. She graduated from Frank Scott Bunnell High School in Stratford, Morningside College in Sioux City, IA, and Boston University School of Theology. She was a lifelong Girl Scout and member of the Housatonic Girl Scout Council. Her life was formed in camp and retreat settings – Girl Scout camps, Quinipet Camp & Retreat Center on Shelter Island, NY, and Rolling Ridge Retreat & Conference Center in North Andover, MA.
Ordained in the New England Conference in 1977, Betty was one of the early clergy women to have full clergy rights in the United Methodist Church and to serve as a church pastor for the entirety of her career. She served as the Southern New England Conference Consultant from the Council on the Status and Role of Women. She shaped a generation of young United Methodists as a summer camp director and counselor at Rolling Ridge. She ministered churches throughout the New England Conference in Massachusetts and Connecticut: Roxbury and Halcottville, MA; Melrose, MA; Pittsfield, MA; Worcester, MA; Somerville, MA; and Norwich, CT. In 2002 Betty transferred to the New York Conference, where she served Long Hill UMC in Trumbull, CT and Woodbury UMC in CT. She retired early from the New York Conference in 2013 due to health concerns.
She was a prophet. She was a feminist. She hated the abuse of power. She called people out. She was a formidable colleague. She spoke the truth in public. She was full of love and righteous anger for the violated and forgotten, the least and the lost. She was a grassroots theologian who loved to preach about the soul-piercing, soul-soothing love of God in Christ.
Also known as “Boop” to many of her friends, she was famous for her great parties, extravagant multi-course dinners, and extraordinary hospitality, celebrating sacred and secular occasions with equal magnitude. With sets of dishes and bins of decorations for each and every holiday on the calendar, her seasonal decorating was unmatched. She annually celebrated Christmas on Valentine’s Day with her lifelong friends with the maximum amount of red and pink a home could contain. Her candy collection was legend. She held epic Christmas open houses for her church families and friends. She gave her full resources to numerous fundraising events for her churches: pumpkin sales, blueberry festivals, and preparing meals upon meals.
Betty loved music, art, and storytelling. She loved TV, movies, NPR, Lake Wobegon, Downton Abbey, Outlander and James Taylor. She adored showering people she loved with love. She loved to travel to holy places and anywhere with water. When speaking of her eventual death, she told her sister, “Remember me from a garden.” She always had fresh flowers in her house, paperwhites in pebbles in her windows in the spring, and red geraniums inside and outside of her home all summer long.
Betty is survived by her siblings, Dottie Steffany and Robert Schrader, and by six biological nieces and nephews. Betty also left behind her beloved dog companion, Toto, and a vast chosen family: childhood friends Donna Violante and Elaine Sokolowski, her United Methodist clergy sisters the WILD Women, and dozens of adopted nieces, nephews, and grandchildren. She was predeceased by her brother Danny.
As children and youth ministry were so close to her heart, the family requests donations in her memory to be sent to Rolling Ridge Retreat and Conference Center, 660 Great Pond Road, North Andover, MA 01845. Please write “Betty Schrader Memorial” on the memo line of your check. You can also make a donation online, using the note section to provide Betty’s name.
At this time there is no announced memorial service.