Christian author and social activist Ron Sider has died at the age of 82. Sider’s son, Ted, informed Sider’s Facebook friends and followers that Sider died suddenly from a cardiac arrest on the evening of Wednesday, July 27.
In 1978, Sider founded the Evangelicals for Social Action, now called Christians for Social Action (CSA), “a group of scholar-activists, stirring the imagination for a fuller expression of Christian faithfulness and a more just society.”
CSA was founded out of a desire to create a network of Christian scholars and leaders to fulfill the commitments made in “The Chicago Declaration of Evangelical Social Concern,” a 1973 document signed by 53 Christian leaders as a commitment to social justice and a call to reject racism, economic materialism, economic inequality, militarism, and sexism.
Sider was the author of several books, including “Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger,” “The Scandal of Evangelical Politics,” and “Saving Souls, Serving Society: Understanding the Faith Factor in Church-Based Social Ministry.”
Born in 1939, Sider received a B.A. in European history from Waterloo Lutheran University, in Waterloo, Ontario, in 1962. He went on to attend Yale University, receiving an M.A. in history, a Bachelor of Divinity, and a PhD.
While teaching at the Philadelphia Campus of Messiah College, Sider was deeply affected by the racism and poverty he observed in the inner city, as well as the indifference many evangelicals expressed toward those social ills, inspiring his social activism moving forward.
In March of 2021, Sider announced that he had been diagnosed with an “aggressive form of bladder cancer.”
“I am certain that my physical death here, whenever it comes, will just be a transition to an even more wonderful eternity with my Lord,” Sider said in that statement. “That is a glorious assurance as I face the reality of my cancer. In the words of the Gaithers’ wonderful song, Because he lives, I can face tomorrow. Because he lives, all fear is gone.”
In a statement released to their website, CSA said, “While we are sad that he is no longer with us, we are DEEPLY grateful for his faithfulness, his writings, and his leadership. He was both humble and bold. Humble in the ways that he held himself. Bold in bearing witness to God’s heart for justice. Ron, you will be missed. We thank God for the years we had with you.”
Sider is survived by his wife of 59 years, Arbutus Lichti Sider, and their three children.