On Sunday, February 5th, community members gathered to celebrate the life and ministry of Rev. Dr. Sue Webb Cardwell. The memorial service was held at Downey Avenue Christian Church in Indianapolis, IN and included testimonies from pastors, chaplains, colleagues, friends, and family members who were blessed to know Sue during her 104 years. A video recording of the full memorial service can be viewed below.
The breadth of Dr. Cardwell’s family was overwhelmingly impressive; her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and extended family were so numerous they seemed to fill half the church themselves. Her influence and legacy extended beyond her family and into the lives of the many students, colleagues, ministry partners, and admirers who filled the rest of the seats.
Presiding minister Rev. Melody Merida eloquently captured the sentiment of the service, saying “How do we mourn a life that spanned 104 remarkable years? Sue would say, ‘Don’t mourn it! Celebrate it!’ And of course she would be right, for there is much to celebrate. But our hearts also grieve because the Rev. Dr. Sue Webb Cardwell is no longer in our midst. We hold in our hands both the joy of her great life and the grief of her absence from us.”
The service included remarks from people who knew Sue in all the iterations of her service, from CTS President Dr. David Mellott to Indiana DOC Regional Minister Rev. Rick Spleth to her chaplain Rev. Patty Jones from Robin Run Village to Rev. LaMarco A. Cable, President of Global Ministries for the Christian Church (DOC) and the United Church of Christ.
Rev. Cable spoke about the continued legacy of Sue’s missionary work in the Congo with her beloved husband Walter. He shared that to this day, community members in the Congo lovingly refer to Rev. Dr. Cardwell as “Mama Sue,” remembering she had an “undeniable love for ALL people, always willing to support the sacred vision that ALL of God’s people and creation share in God’s abundant life.”
Particularly moving was the moment soloist Stephen Enz performed “His Eye is On the Sparrow,” a song Sue herself requested be played at her memorial, noting that she first heard it with her twin sister at a memorial service when she was young and was so inspired that she decided to dedicate her life to God. Rev. Dr. Cardwell permeated the CTS community as a student, faculty member, foundational leader in developing counseling programs and the CTS Counseling Center, honorary degree recipient, and the inaugural recipient of the President’s Award of Excellence just this last May. Whether directly or indirectly, everyone in the CTS community has been bountifully blessed by Sue’s willingness to give her life to God’s service and her commitment to showing God’s love to all.
As Rev. Cable proclaimed, “We cannot replace the Rev. Dr. Sue Cardwell, but we will attempt to improve the lives of our siblings from our doorsteps to the ends of the earth and live our lives as demonstrated by Sue’s great example.”
Video Recording of Memorial Service for Rev. Dr. Sue Webb Cardwell