Obituary for Douglas Schuurman
Douglas Schuurman, age 64 of Northfield, passed away at home with his wife and family by his side, on Saturday evening, February 15, 2020. Doug was born on May 23, 1955, in Paterson, NJ and lived most of his early life in Midland Park, NJ. He attended Eastern Christian Schools from kindergarten through high school. Doug and Kathy met in kindergarten and were friends throughout the years. They married on August 20, 1975 in Wyckoff, NJ and moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan so Doug could attend Calvin College, and later Calvin Theological Seminary. For thirty-four years, Schuurman was a distinguished […]
Douglas Schuurman, age 64 of Northfield, passed away at home with his wife and family by his side, on Saturday evening, February 15, 2020.
Doug was born on May 23, 1955, in Paterson, NJ and lived most of his early life in Midland Park, NJ. He attended Eastern Christian Schools from kindergarten through high school. Doug and Kathy met in kindergarten and were friends throughout the years. They married on August 20, 1975 in Wyckoff, NJ and moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan so Doug could attend Calvin College, and later Calvin Theological Seminary.
For thirty-four years, Schuurman was a distinguished teacher and scholar in the Religion Department at St. Olaf College. He received a B.A. in Philosophy at Calvin College, an M.Div at Calvin Seminary and Ph.D. in Theology and Ethics from the University of Chicago Divinity School. He joined the Religion Department at St. Olaf College in 1986 after teaching at Calvin College. At St. Olaf, he quickly became a mainstay in the teaching of courses in theology and ethics. His courses were wide-ranging: Biblical theology and history, Christian theology and topics in Christian ethics such as the ethics of Luther, love and justice, Christian hope, postmodernism, the ethics of vocation and liberation theology. Three of the courses especially became pillars of departmental offerings: The Bible and Ethics, Christian Theology and the Moral Life, and Love, Justice and Social Relations. He also taught in a number of interdisciplinary programs, including the Great Conversation and Science Conversation programs. He was loved by students, who were impressed by his intellectual substance and breadth and found endearing his friendly, kindly and compassionate manner.
Schuurman was also a leader in the development of three distinctive programs at the college. First, with Ed Langerak he developed the Ethical Issues and Normative Perspectives program, including leading annual workshops to prepare professors in other disciplines to teach the required general education ethics course. Second, Schuurman helped develop the Science Conversation program, served as founding director of the program, and taught in the program for a number of years. Third, he was a consultant to the Lilly grant that brought major funding to the college to launch a new program on Vocation. In 2003-04 he was the college’s Lilly Vocational Scholar. In all of these activities, Schuurman was widely appreciated by St Olaf faculty and staff as a vibrant intellect, insightful leader and congenial, supportive colleague.
Schuurman’s early scholarship focused on the theology of Brunner and Moltmann, culminating in his publication of Creation, Eschaton and Ethics (1991). In 1993 he co-authored an important book on gender and theology, After Eden. Facing the Challenge of Gender Reconciliation. Most significant was his scholarly work on the theme of vocation. In 2004 he published Vocation: Discerning Our Callings in Life. This book continues to have an important impact on public discussions of vocation in churches and colleges around the country. More generally, Schuurman lectured on the theme of vocation in a variety of settings, including several sets of lectures in South Africa. In recent years he expanded his work on vocation to consider contributions to the theme by other religious traditions and secular worldviews. With Kathleen Cahalan, Schuurman produced the book Calling in Today’s World: Voices from Eight Faith Perspectives (2016). His work marked him as one of the country’s preeminent Christian theologians reflecting on the meaning and possibility of vocation in the modern world.
Doug loved having long conversations with his children especially on holidays and on their annual family vacations; hiking on the north shore of Lake Superior; fishing in Canada and locally; and reading science fiction and fantasy novels.
A visitation will be held from 2:00PM – 5:00PM on Saturday, February 22, 2020, at Kings’ Room in Buntrock Commons on the campus of St. Olaf College. A celebration of Doug’s life will be held at 11:00AM, on Saturday, June 27, 2020, at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Northfield.
Doug is survived by his wife, Kathy; his daughters, Sarah Schuurman of Alexandria, Virginia, Krista (Paul) Marino of Falcon Heights, Laura (Ed) Rasmussen of Sydney, Australia; his grandson, Noah Clymer; two brothers, Henry of Edmonton, Alberta, Don (Shelley) of Grand Rapids, Michigan; two sisters, Carol (Gary) Ferencheck of Lansing, Michigan, Diane (Al) Nyland of Bradenton, Florida; two sisters-in-law, Beverly (Bill) Jeczalik of The Villages, Florida, Jane (Bob) Wiegers of Georgetown, Kentucky; nieces, nephews, other relatives and a host of friends. He was preceded in death by his parents Henry and Hester Schuurman.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to St. John’s Lutheran Church, Northfield; Northfield Community Action Center; St. Olaf College; or a charity of your choice.
Arrangements are with the Benson & Langehough Funeral Home. www.northfieldfuneral.com