Patricia Budd Kepler was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania to Theresa Dick Budd and Harold J. Budd. Her maternal grandmother, Marie Dick was part of their household. She was the oldest of four children, three other siblings, Mary, Harold, and Theresa. Harold Budd Sr.’s educational pursuits and career in law and higher education took the family to Philadelphia where Ms. Kepler attended Girls’ High School and Drexel University. She went on to earn a Master of Divinity and a ThM in Theology and Psychology from Princeton Theological Seminary. The church she attended, St. Paul Presbyterian Church in West Philadelphia was a major influence in her life.
In 1957 she married Thomas Fitch Kepler, a son of Margaret and Raymond Kepler, China missionaries, and she and Thomas had three sons, Thomas Budd, James Blain, and John Harold who all now have families of their own.
Over the course of her career, Patricia Kepler served two long term pastorates. The first was Westminster Presbyterian Church in New Jersey, a predominately African American Church at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, and Clarendon Hill Presbyterian Church in Somerville Massachusetts. Clarendon Hill Church was committed to gender equality, sexual orientation, and justice in all aspects of life in church and society. Education and social action were essential aspects of community life with a focus on peace making. The Rev. Kepler made trips to the Middle East and Kenya and helped organize conferences on the Middle East. She also served as an Interim at First Presbyterian Church in Sudbury, Massachusetts, Good Shepard Presbyterian Church in Easton, MA, and First Presbyterian Church in Waltham, MA.
In addition to serving in pastorates, Rev. Kepler served in educational ministries. She was Interim University Chaplain at Tufts University where she worked with Chaplains, students, and faculty from different faith traditions. She was Director of Ministerial Studies at Harvard Divinity School where she developed the school’s professional degree programs, organizing classes, teaching, advising students, developing conferences and serving on faculty committees.
Prior to going to Harvard, the Rev. Kepler was Director of Women’s Program for the Board of Christian Education of the Presbyterian Church, USA. In that position, she worked with United Presbyterian Women and then became staff for the Task Force on Women. The Task Force emerged out of one of the first groups to address feminism in a religious context during the Second Wave of the Feminist Movement. She traveled the country lecturing and writing articles on feminism, the family, and theology.
She was Co-President with Wilma Scott Heide and then President of the Women’s Coalition for the Third Century, an organization originally called together by the White House during our nation’s Bicentennial. The Coalition wrote “The Declaration of Interdependence. During that time, Kepler wrote the lyrics for a musical “Eve, Adam. And the Curse,” with music by Douglas Ruffle and Thomas Budd Kepler. The musical was produced for WCT3 in Boston.
In addition to her formal work, Patricia Kepler hosted a cable television series with Father Peter Casey entitled, “Listening in to Stories of Faith” She participated with her husband Thomas Kepler in several local theater groups. She taught courses at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Tufts in “Ritual,” “Searching for the Face of God,” and with Hannah Simon, “Ageing with Grace.”
`In recent years, her work has focused on writing. She is Minister emerita at Clarendon Hill Presbyterian Church in Somerville, MA. Her books “Life (God) Lessons from my Dog” was published in 2007 and her book “Work After Patriarchy: A Pastoral Perspective” was published in 2009, and “Button Reflections” was published in 2015, and “Miranda, My Angel” was published in 2019. She is currently writing a book about the beginnings and the future of Christianity.
The Veteran Feminists of America named Patricia their Feminist of the Month for February of 2011!
Be sure to check out the interview here!