Dr. Walter Froese, church historian and retired professor from Anderson University, was born in Germany and lived there for 12 years before being forced from his home in 1939. His family then immigrated to Canada where he attended high school and later returned to teach high school before being invited to teach at the college level. In the meantime he studied at the University of Chicago with his wife Gerta Leicht. They both grew up in the Church of God; however, Dr. Froese believes, "Everyone belongs to the Church of God whether they know it or not."
Dr. Froese’s love of scholarship, research and the Church of God, plus his cultural background, made the idea for a book linger in his mind for years. He finally started writing last fall about the Church of God in Eastern Europe, which happens to be the working title of his book.
"If I don’t write all of this down, there won’t be many people left with my experience, ability and knowledge, and it might never get done," explained Dr. Froese. He does not have a deadline or a publisher, but is confident that God is in control.
The book begins in the early 1900s with missionaries from the United States entering Eastern Europe. It then follows the Church of God in Germany, revealing its journey through time. Dr. Froese documents the history with pictures, texts and firsthand accounts of the Church of God in Eastern Europe.
After he retired last year, Dr. Froese took a research trip to Germany. He went to museums and libraries in Eastern Europe, searching for documents and pictures. He also visited the state archives in Berlin. "I tried to write about one chapter a month, sometimes I didn’t finish and sometimes I spilt one chapter into several after finishing it," explained Dr. Froese. The book is currently being reviewed by scholars in the U.S. and abroad.
"I am trying to tell a story. I don’t want the book to just give information; I want it to respect the spirit and be true to the subject," Dr. Froese explained. "I want to spread knowledge and I know the Church of God Historical society is interested in what comes of the book." Dr. Froese guesses his book will be done and ready to be published my next spring.
Dr. Froese loves to travel and conduct research. He recently drove to Ontario to meet with a man reviewing his book. "I have a wonderful time driving by myself. Sometimes it is wonderful to play out scenarios and debates in my mind, and the car is the perfect place," he explained. He spoke of looking at the scenery and meditating on God, life and the world around him.
Dr. Froese is using his retirement to share the past and history with a new generation. "Life is a process, there is no present," he said. "We simply come out of the past and go into the future."
- Elizabeth Vincent is a junior from Greenfield, Ind., majoring in communication arts with a minor in political science. Vincent is an associate with Fifth Street Communications, writing on behalf of Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2008, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the fourth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.