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J. Edward Barrett (1932-2023), a biblical scholar and philosophical theologian, was engaged in meaningful and thoughtful conversations up until his death on April 26, 2023. His most recent exchanges occurred with a group of committed and curious thinkers (aka “The Porch Group”) that he hosted weekly on his screened-in porch in Brevard, NC.
Ed grew up in Philadelphia and graduated from Susquehanna University and Princeton Theological Seminary. While serving as pastor of the Presbyterian congregation in Glassboro, New Jersey, it became increasingly clear to him that he wanted to teach, so he earned his PhD from St. Andrew’s University in Scotland, then became a professor of Religion and Philosophy at Muskingum College.
Highlights at Muskingum include: teaching his favorite course, Global Issues and Values; being asked by the African American students on campus to serve as the faculty rep on the trip to attend Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral in Atlanta; leading students January-term tours of Israel and Greece; hosting distinguished speakers on campus like Victor Frankel and John Cobb; writing three books (How Are You programmed?, Faith in Focus: A Compact Introduction to Christian Theology, and Mapping Tomorrow’s Planet: Ecological Reverence in the Global Village); teaching in Taiwan and Hong Kong and researching at the World Council of Churches in Geneva; lecturing against the Vietnam War across the three-state region as part of an informal speaking circuit during the late 60s and early 70s; playing noon basketball; coaching the women’s swim team; and engaging in thought-provoking and truth-seeking conversations with his colleagues across all disciplines.
Ed was a founding member of the Highlands Institute for American Religious and Philosophical Thought and spent the early years of his retirement actively engaged with this international community of scholars interested in the interface between religion and philosophy. Ed loved sailing on the Chesapeake, singing, playing the piano and ukulele, writing poetry, playing with his springer spaniels, and cheering for his daughters and grandchildren in all their activities.
Ed and his life partner, Suzanne, celebrated their 64 th wedding anniversary this year – a partnership of love and shared purpose to living out their faith. They retired in Brevard, NC to be near their daughter Jeanne DeJong, her husband Rich, their granddaughters, Annelise (Jake) and Marielle (Cabell) and their great grandchildren Alene and Gerrit. Daughter Betsy Barrett, her husband Tom Journell, and grandsons Mack and Tate loved visiting from Minnesota. Ed’s sister and brother-in-law, Bonnie and Walt Chamberlain, live in Pennsylvania.
At a recent appointment, upon learning about Ed’s scholarly expertise, his doctor asked him to sum up the meaning of life. Ed responded, “Love your neighbor” and “Be a blessing.”
A service of remembrance and thanksgiving will be Saturday, June 10 at 3 p.m. at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Brevard.
Gifts in his memory may be given to Sharing House or the Mission Endowment Fund of the LCGS, both of which support people in need in Transylvania County and worldwide, representing Ed’s commitment to the love of God for all people.
Mission Endowment Fund of Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd
22 Fisher Rd, Brevard, NC 28712
Sharing House, Transylvania Christian Ministry, Inc
164 Duckworth Ave, Brevard, NC 28712
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