Theologian and women's advocate Marie-Claire Barth-Frommel deceased

Dr. h.c. Marie-Claire Barth-Frommel

Dr. h. c. Marie-Claire Barth-Frommel was born in Geneva in 1927. She studied theology in Geneva and Zurich and then began working as an interpreter for the World Council of Churches. At the age of 29, she decided to go to Indonesia with the Basel Mission. In the capital, Jakarta, she worked as a study secretary for the Indonesian Christian student movement, and later as a lecturer in biblical subjects. In Indonesia she met her future husband the pastor and theology lecturer Christoph Barth, a son of the influential Swiss theologian Karl Barth. Together, the couple had four children.

In 1965, the family traveled back to Europe. Barth-Frommel, however, remained connected with the Indonesian churches throughout her life, especially the Evangelical Church in Kalimantan (Borneo). She wrote numerous scholarly Bible commentaries in Indonesian and also translated dissertations of Indonesian doctoral students. In addition, she advised the Indonesian Christian community in Southwest Germany as well as the Indonesian Nurses Association.

In Basel, Barth-Frommel was active in the management of the Basel Mission from 1980 to 1983. She was strongly committed to the development of women's work there, so that today's staff unit "Women and Gender" at Mission 21 is also due to her efforts.

After the death of her husband in 1986, she traveled to Indonesia for several months each year to serve as a theology lecturer and advisor to the church's women's ministry.

Even after her retirement, she worked as a translator and exegete; as recently as 2018, she published a book on Job's suffering, "I Give Up and Take Comfort," with her son, psychoanalyst Daniel Barth.

In 2011, she received an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Theology of the University of Basel for her great commitment over decades to the education of theologians in Indonesia, her peace work, and her commitment to women's human rights.

Mission 21 expresses its deepest condolences to the bereaved family. It is extremely grateful to Marie-Claire Barth-Frommel for her energetic commitment to the Basel Mission, the partner churches in Indonesia and feminist theology. Her decades of work have contributed significantly to the fact that more women from our Indonesian partner churches study theology in order to become pastors or church leaders.

The funeral service for Marie-Claire Barth-Frommel will be held at 2 p.m. on Jan. 7, 2020, at St. Peter's Church in Basel.

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