The Rev. Dr. John D. Schule

The Rev. Dr. John D. Schule

Passed on Thursday, 12 March 2020

The Rev. Dr. John David Schule died on March 12, 2020 at home surrounded by family after a long battle with lymphoma. He was longtime pastor of the Federated Church of Martha’s Vineyard,

Reverend Schule was known for his thoughtful sermons, humor, Scottish ancestry and compassion, especially in the face of adversity. In addition to serving as pastor of the Federated Church for 20 years, he was a co-founder of Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard.

In an interview with the Vineyard Gazette, as he prepared to preach his last sermon at the Federated Church upon his retirement in 1998, Mr. Schule said his favorite time of day was the quiet of morning when he wrote his sermons.  “Sermons are made on the anvil of life,” he said.

John Schule was born in Norwalk, Conn. He was educated at Norwalk High School, Berkshire Christian College and Gordon Divinity School. He received his masters from Columbia University and doctorate from Hartford Seminary. He was ordained by the United Church of Christ in 1958 and began his ministry at Church of the Advent in Danbury, CT.

He counted writer, theologian and priest, Henri Nouwen, as one of his early spiritual mentors.  “Henri once told me that maybe I should be a monk, for part of me values the quiet time, the meditation,” Mr. Schule said in the 1998 interview with the Gazette. “There is a lot of energy that comes from silence.”

Mr. Schule channeled this energy into service, working with the Island community and building his congregation. When he arrived at the Federated Church in 1978 there were about 50 families involved. At his retirement in 1998 over 300 families were part of the congregation.

During his time at the helm of the Federated Church he had lived in the Mayhew Parsonage. Upon retirement, Mr. Schule thought he would have to leave the Island as purchasing a home on the Vineyard was out of the question financially for a retired pastor. Then an anonymous donor stepped forward.  “One day he approached me, he wanted to know if I could give him a few minutes time. I thought he had a personal problem,” Mr. Schule told the Gazette. “We went to lunch.”  At lunch the man offered to purchase a home in Edgartown for the Schule family to live in.  “I became unglued,” Mr. Schule said.  Mr. Schule built a small chapel in the backyard of this new home. Each year at Christmas, the chapel and backyard would fill up for a tradition of carols. In 2018, the chapel was moved to Featherstone Center for the Arts for the community to enjoy.

In his retirement, Mr. Schule remained active in the community and occasionally filled in to preach sermons at other churches around the Island. And he continued to write in the early mornings, submitting pieces to the Vineyard Gazette and other publications from time to time.

A memorial service is being planned for late spring or early summer.

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