“Lois and Eunice and Youâ€?
by Pastor George Van Alstine

 Our homecoming emphasis this year will be on the critical role women have played in the origin and emergence of Altadena Baptist Church. We came to this idea by the realization that some older women of faith have graduated to eternity during recent months, such as Jeanne Marsh, Dorothy Olson and Lois Shotlow and Betty Stickles. People who have been part of the fellowship in recent years probably don’t realize the important roles such women have played in the church’s ministry over the years.

 We are entitling our theme, “Lois, Eunice and You,â€? based on the words of Paul to his young assistant Timothy:

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith
that lived first in your grandmother Lois and
your mother Eunice and now, I am sure,
lives in you.â€?    II Timothy: 1:5

It would make the picture complete if Timothy’s name were “Timothia,â€? and “sheâ€? carried on the faith heritage of “herâ€? mother and grandmother. That’s the sense of our title “Lois and Eunice and You,â€? that women of faith who play important roles in today’s ABC are following in the footsteps of some very impressive women of the past.

 But let’s allow Timothy to remain a male. In the first century, women did not have many opportunities to be up-front leaders, but they could invest in the training of a promising young man who, like Timothy, was destined to be one of the Early Church’s key leaders. Eunice’s mother Lois gave her a name that meant “Good Victory.â€? She chose to see this little female baby as a courageous conqueror. Was that an ironic joke, or did Lois have the spiritual insight to foresee that the shy, reticent Timothy would need the example of a courageous mother to bring out the best in him?

Until 1979, women at ABC were not allowed to serve on its main governing body, the Board of Deacons. But many of these women found a way to be powerful leaders in spite of such limitations. I discovered an example of this while rummaging through historical records in the church’s vault room. Bethel Baptist Church, originally the Swedish Baptist Church of Pasadena, is one of the congregations that merged to form ABC. Their original building was constructed in the middle of the Depression. There are records showing that much of the financial support came from women, who kept their jobs working as domestics for large Pasadena estates, while their menfolk couldn’t find jobs.

 It doesn’t take much insight to see that the lifeblood of churches like ABC has more often than not been based on the faithfulness of women who were de facto leaders long before they were allowed to be official church leaders. This is the spiritual heritage we want to recognize and celebrate this Homecoming Sunday, through the theme “Lois and Eunice and You.â€?

 Please do your best to be at our annual Homecoming celebration on November 2.