We give thanks for the life of Brita Stendahl, a longtime member of University Lutheran Church, who died on February 11, 2016 after a long illness. She was 92.
Brita was a writer, translator, educator, and scholar in Scandinavian and comparative literature and culture and in theology. She held bachelors degrees in theology (1949) and philosophy (1954) and an honorary doctor of philosophy degree (1981), all from Uppsala University in her native Sweden. Her books include Søren Kierkegaard (Twayne Publishers, 1976); Sabbatical Reflections: The Ten Commandments in a New Day (Fortress Press, 1980); The Force of Tradition: A Case Study of Women Priests in Sweden (Fortress Press, 1985); The Education of a Self-Made Woman: Fredrika Bremer 1801-1865 (E. Mellen Press, 1994); and several works in Swedish.
Brita was a Bunting Fellow at Radcliffe College from 1961 to 1963, and taught at Harvard Extension School, the Harvard Freshman Program, and the Radcliffe Seminar Program over the years. With her husband, the late Krister Stendahl, she was an advocate for Christian-Jewish understanding; they received the first Myron B. Bloy Memorial Award from the Association for Religion and Intellectual Life in 1993.
The funeral service took place on Tuesday, February 16, 2016 at 11 a.m. at University Lutheran Church. Read the sermon by the Rev. Thomas B. Chittick. A memorial service celebrating Brita’s life was held on Tuesday, March 29, 2016 at Harvard’s Memorial Church.
Contributions in Brita’s memory may be made to the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter, 66 Winthrop Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, or to refugee resettlement through The International Rescue Committee or Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Brita’s children, The Rev. John Stendahl, Anna Langenfeld, and Daniel Stendahl; Brita’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren; and her wide circle of friends.