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I Did What I Could: A Memoir by Gilbert Schroerlucke

I Did What I Could: A Memoir

by Gilbert Schroerlucke

300 pages
A minister's memoirs-from rural roots to controversial urban ministry

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Category: Autobiography
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About the Book
In I Did What I Could, Gilbert Schroerlucke relates his remarkable life journey which began with a hard-scrabble childhood on a poor Kentucky farm and took him into World War II, family life, a dedicated and controversial ministry within the United Methodist Church, and an active and lively retirement.

Readers will marvel at how a man with such humble beginnings could end up being a champion for civil rights and social justice, including sharing the stage with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1967 and getting arrested in a gay rights demonstration in the 1990s.

Schroerlucke’s commitment to “ministry as social justice” is seen in small ways during his early career serving several different churches in Louisville and small Kentucky towns.

However, his passion came to fruition during his 18-year tenure at West Broadway United Methdist Church in the black community on Louisville’s west side. This experience is the central focus of the book, with five chapters devoted to the fascinating story of this congregation that was “dying to live.” Covering events in the turbulent late 60s and 70s, Schroerlucke relates the church’s dizzying transition from all-white to almost all-black, its lively service to the community, and the whirlwind Angela Davis controversy that put the young minister on the newspaper’s front pages and landed him in the hospital.

Throughout his career Schroerlucke frequently struggled with the institutional church, challenging its resistance to change and encouraging it to follow a path of social justice. As chronicled in this memoir, Schroerlucke’s ministry embodied his belief that “love for God and love for neighbor are bound up together and cannot be separated.” Even in retirement, as the book relates, Schroerlucke continues his social justice work in the areas of reproductive rights and gay rights. He also continues to challenge the institutional church.

Not simply a chronicle of social justice activism, I Did What I Could also lifts up the importance of family. Throughout the book, Schroerlucke relates the important part that family has played in his life, including his wife and five children as well as his own parents and siblings. In addition, readers will find the second chapter, "“Greetings” from Uncle Sam," to be a poignant portrayal of the horrors of war from a young soldier’s perspective.

Part social history, part religious and theological commentary, and part personal reflection, I Did What I Could is a fascinating and thoughtful chronicle of a remarkable man’s life in remarkable times.



About the Author
Gilbert Schroerlucke Rev. Gilbert Schroerlucke’s career in the United Methodist Church evolved from serving small town congregations to a controversial urban ministry focused on civil rights and social justice. For over four decades this minister, also a WWII veteran and family man, challenged the change-resistant institutional church to become relevant and socially-conscious.



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