Schneider was primarily a professor of history and church history at York University in Toronto; he spent two decades at Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary teaching hermeneutics and liturgical art; and he had established the Programme in Orthodox Theology at Trinity College, University of Toronto, where he taught until spring 2022.
Devoted to the cause of Christian unity, he served as president—the first Orthodox president in its history—of the Canadian Council of Churches (2003-2006) and member of its Commission on Faith and Witness. He was considered a valuable resource person when the WCC was exploring, for the conduct of its business, the ethos and culture of consensus decision-making.
Prof. Peter Bouteneff, from the St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, former staff member of the secretariat of Faith and Order in the WCC, describes the contribution of Schneider to the work of the WCC:
“My first meeting with Richard was in Toronto in 1999, when the WCC Faith and Order Commission listened to his presentation on consensus method. It was fitting that the first thing I heard him speak about was the delicate and kenotic task of finding agreement among disparate constituents (…) He didn’t mind when I would later call him ‘the apostle of consensus.’ Because as much as he came to be known for his vision of history and historiography, hermeneutics, and iconology, for Richard it came down to how people treated each other, specifically how they listened to one another. This kind of mutual yielding and communion-building—sensibilities emerging from Christian life and from Richard’s immense, loving heart—were at the core of everything he did in ecclesiastical and academic spheres, and in his personal life.”
“The WCC gives thanks to God for Prof. Schneider’s capacity of and commitment to listening, this fundamental principle of an authentic dialogue and the most important way for reaching consensus as a prayerful discernment of God’s will,” said WCC acting general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca. “Prof. Schneider will be remembered with gratitude as a persistent advocate for Christian unity, one of the impactful and important leaders in the ecumenical scene, a great friend and advocate for his many students.”