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Cain H. Felder

October 1, 2019


The Rev. Dr. Cain Hope Felder passed at his home in Mobile, AL on Tuesday October 1, 2019, with his wife Jewell at his bedside.

He is preceded in death by his mother Lula Mae Landy Felder, his father Robbie B. Felder, and six siblings: Clayton, Patience (Brown), Alvin, Calvin, Abel, and Seth.

He is survived by his wife, Dr. Jewell Richardson Felder of Mobile, AL and one daughter Akidah H. Felder M.A. of Bethesda, MD. ,one brother Robbie J.(Ruth), of Salley, S.C. and one sister Mary Harvey of Moorestown, N.J.

Born in Aiken, S.C., he moved with his family to  Boston, Mass. three months later. He graduated from the elite Boston Latin Public High School. He was very devoted to his mother whom he credits with making it possible for him to succeed despite the many obstacles that he and his family confronted.

He committed his life at an early age to Christ- joining the Methodist- affiliated church of All Nations in Boston. He participated in and directed many church activities for children and worked as a counselor and eventually assistant director of the Morgan Memorial Fresh Air Camps in South Athol, Massachusetts. He was a famous story-teller who delighted campers and counselors alike. Needless to say, these activities shaped his life’s work as a speaker, minister, and inspiring professor of Divinity. His influence was widely felt and continues in the work of his former students and many friends.

Dr. Felder was an American biblical scholar, serving as professor of New Testament language and literature and editor of The Journal of Religious Thought at the Howard University School of Divinity. He also served as chair of the Doctor of Philosophy program and immediate past chair of the Doctor of Ministry program. He was a member of Howard's faculty from 1981 until his retirement in 2016.

Prior to coming to Howard, he taught within the Department of Biblical Studies (1978–1981) at Princeton Theological Seminary. From 1969 to 1972, Dr. Felder worked as the first executive director of Black Methodists for Church Renewal (BMCR), the black caucus of the United Methodist Church, which was headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. Originally ordained as an elder in the United Methodist Church, he served as pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in New York City (1975–1977). Until his death, Dr. Felder served as an elder in the Second Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, where he was appointed by Bishop Adam Jefferson Richardson as the district’s resident biblical scholar. From 1998 to 2001, Dr. Felder served as chair of the implementation panel for the National Center for African American Heritage & Culture at Howard University.

His publications include True to Our Native Land (2007); Troubling Biblical Waters: Race, Class, and Family, originally published in 1989 and now in its 16th printing; and The Original African Heritage Study Bible (1993).

Dr. Felder held Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Philosophy degrees in biblical language and literature from Columbia University in New York; a Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York; a Diploma of Theology from Mansfield College at the University of Oxford in England; a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy, Greek, and Latin from Howard University in Washington, DC. At Howard he also joined the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity where he established lifelong friendships with his fraternity brothers.

After retiring to Mobile, Alabama he was affiliated with Toulminville-Warren United Methodist Church. In addition to his wife Dr. Jewell Felder, and daughter Akidah H. Felder M.A., he leaves to mourn numerous relatives, friends, colleagues, and students, who have all benefitted from his presence in their lives.

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