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In Loving Memory of Joan Kahn-Schneider (1930 – 2017)

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Rev. Joan Kahn-Schneider died on June 18, 2017 at the age of 86.


Joan was born on September 13, 1930 to parents Emanual “Jerry” Kahn, Jr. and Selma Andorn Kahn. Before pursuing her call to ministry, Joan owned and operated a neighborhood book store. She later worked as a counselor in private practice, including offering guidance in family planning. Though raised Jewish, Joan found her spiritual home in 1971 at Northern Hills Fellowship (now the Gathering at Northern Hills) in Cincinnati, OH. Joan received a B.A. psychology from Antioch College in 1977; but she found herself drawn more toward the theological/philosophical areas of her study, and in 1981 she earned her Master of Divinity from United Theological Seminary. Finally, she would later earn a Master of Education – Organization and Management from Antioch New England Graduate School in 1999.


Rev. Kahn-Schneider was ordained on June 8, 1981 by her home congregation. She was first called to serve the UU Church of Farmington, MI until 1985, at which point she accepted a position as the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Ministerial Education Director. Rev. Kahn-Schneider then served as minister to the East Shore UU Church in Kirtland, OH from 1987 to 1989. In that year she accepted a call to the First UU Society of Albany, NY, where she ministered for eight years. After leaving Albany, Rev. Kahn-Schneider carried out a series of vital interim ministries at the following congregations: the UU Church of Concord, NH (1997 – 1999), the Unitarian Society of Hartford, CT (1999 – 2000), the Tennessee Valley UU Church (2000 – 2001), and the UU Church of Spartanburg, SC (2001 – 2002). Though Joan officially retired in 2003, she continued to serve as an independent congregation consultant for several years. This work led her to the UU Church of Savannah, GA, where she was invited to stay on as minister from 2004 to 2009. Finally, she returned to minister for one year at the Gathering at Northern Hills in Cincinnati (2013 – 2014), following which she became a member of the UU Fellowship of Hendersonville, NC.


Rev. Kahn-Schneider’s service on behalf of the denomination was extensive. She served as President of the Ministerial Sisterhood Unitarian Universalist, a forum for women clergy. While ministering in Michigan, Joan served as Good Offices Person for her UU Ministers’ Association Chapter. She was also Vice-Chair of the UU Council of Cincinnati Program Committee. Rev. Kahn-Schneider also served on the UUA’s Board of Review, and while a member of the UUA staff she held positions in several committees: the Continuing Education Committee, the Joint Theological Schools Committee, and the Theological Grants Panel.


Joan had several works published in her lifetime, including Second Order Structure of the ParentSensuous UUs, and Character of Heretic: On the Life of Joseph Priestly. And her sermon entitled “Homophobia,” which she delivered to the 1984 UUA General Assembly, won that year’s Skinner Sermon Award.


In her spare time Joan held many avocational interests, among which were reading, theater-going, needlework, candle-making, gardening, antiquing, going on walks, and sailing. She was also an appreciator of music, both as a listener and as an auto-harpist. And in 1998 she expressed “an as yet unfulfilled desire to play a really good game of tennis.”


In the family’s own obituary for Joan, they offered the following beautiful remembrance:


Rev. Joan Kahn-Schneider was a force. She lived life on her terms.  Young mother raising 4 kids in the sixties, entrepreneur, soul searcher, therapist, Unitarian Universalist minister. Always going, always growing, helping many people along the way.  … And now, she has easily and peacefully moved on and is dancing in the Light with her Charlie. She will be missed.


She is survived by children David Friedman, Jim Friedman, Robin Guethlein, and Jerri Menaul; eight grandchildren; and sister Lu Cohen. She was predeceased by her beloved spouse Charlie.


In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the UUA Living Tradition Fund or to the charity of one’s own choosing.


A memorial service took place at 4pm on Saturday, July 29, 2017, at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Hendersonville, 409 E Patterson St, Hendersonville, NC, 28739.


Notes of condolence can be sent to


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