Dear Friends and Colleagues:
The fall semester on campus was a difficult one this year. It began with the tragic events of September 11 and included the sudden and unexpected death on November 9 of Dr. James E.
Loder, the Mary D. Synnott Professor of the Philosophy of Christian Education, who served on our faculty with great distinction since 1962.
He was on sabbatical at the time of his death, having returned to Princeton briefly on business when he was suddenly stricken in a local bank. His last reported words before losing consciousness were, “Please pray for me.” The request for prayer was so typical of the man. Once earlier in his teaching career, Jim had a near-death experience in an automobile accident that changed his life. It convinced him of the reality of God’s Spirit, and thereafter he knew it was a holy privilege to approach the throne of grace in prayer. He is the only person I have ever known who teared up virtually every time he led in prayer, so sacred and
precious was the gift of communicating with his Creator and Redeemer.
Dr. Loder was a brilliant scholar who was as adept in physics and psychology as he was in philosophy and theology. When he heard criticisms of the theological task as being too theoretical, he would reply, “There is nothing more practical than a good theory.” For he believed that the Spirit of God who grants to us understanding of the love of God in Jesus Christ also grants us the experience of that love. Thus, he believed and taught his students to believe in the transforming power of the Spirit. Many student lives were transformed in his classroom.
For myself, I feel privileged to have known him from afar as author for many years and as friend and colleague these past 18 years. I am but one of the many who now miss him and recognize the personal and institutional loss that his death represents. Yet the triumphant memorial service in Miller Chapel on November 14 made it clear to all present that James E. Loder is now and forever will be in the Presence of the One he loved and served all the years of his life.
Thomas W. Gillespie