ABHMS honors Women’s History Month

To mark Women’s History Month 2018, American Baptist Home Mission Societies is proud to feature one prominent woman weekly throughout March.

Week 4: The Rev. Marie Ho-Lam

 The Rev. Marie Ho-Lam was pastor of Chinese Christian Church of Queens, N.Y., for more than two decades before retiring in 2006. Before that, she served at Chinese Missionary Baptist Church, Chinatown, N.Y., where she was ordained as an American Baptist minister in 1988.

She was actively involved with American Baptist Home Mission Societies’ Asian Ministries, American Baptist Churches USA’s Asian-American Baptist Caucus, and American Baptist Churches of Metro New York.

Ho-Lam and her husband, the Rev. Henry Lam, immigrated to New York in 1976. The Kwun Tong Swatow Baptist Church that they served in Kowloon, Hong Kong, remains an International Ministries mission partner.

She was a founding member of both the Chinese co-worker council of the metro New York area and a choral society in Chinatown.

She was well known among evangelical circles on the East Coast and in Toronto, Canada. A mentor to many Chinese Christians, she paved the way for a number of Chinese female pastors to seek ordained ministry.

She was called home to the Lord in 2011.

Source: “ABHMS Asian Ministries Pastor Rev. Marie Ho-Lam Dies


Week 3: Irma Violetta Cruz

Irma Violetta Cruz (1935-2014) served as a director of Hispanic Church Education for American Baptist Home Mission Societies’ former Educational Ministries. As such, she developed resources, leader training and other services. Among her responsibilities were as managing editor of the adult curriculum “Fe y Vida” and the news magazine “Avance.”

Before joining ABHMS, Cruz was director of Christian education for various churches in Canovanas and Caguas, Puerto Rico.

She was ordained in Caguas in 1992. She earned two master’s degrees—one in Divinity and the other in Christian Education—at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, Lombard, Ill. Her two bachelor’s degrees were from the University of Puerto Rico/Chicago Governor University and Seminario Biblico Latino Americano, San José, Costa Rica.

Cruz was a member of Second Hispanic Baptist Church, Philadelphia.

Source: American Baptist Churches USA archives

Week 2: Helen Barrett Montgomery

 When she was elected as first woman president of the Northern Baptist Convention in 1921, Helen Barrett Montgomery (1861-1934) became the first woman president of any Protestant denomination.

Twenty years before women won the right to vote, Montgomery was the first woman elected to public office in Rochester, N.Y., having served on the Rochester School Board for 10 years. Her concern for social reform and civic causes grew out of her biblical and theological understandings.

She was active in Lake Avenue Baptist Church, Rochester, where she organized a women’s Bible class that she led for 44 years.

Source: American Baptist Historical Society


Week 1: Nannie Helen Burroughs

Nannie Helen Burroughs (1879-1961) was actively involved in the National Baptist Convention USA (NBCUSA) but unhappy about its restrictions on women. She, therefore, was among the organizers of the Women’s Convention of NBCUSA, for which she served as corresponding secretary, 1900-1948.

In 1909, Burroughs and other Women’s Convention members opened the National Training School for Girls, Washington, D.C., for which Burroughs served as president. The school was named for her when it became an elementary school in 1964.

She was also active in women’s and black suffrage. More than 50 years before Rosa Parks’ bus protest, Burroughs advocated for integrated buses and trains. Burroughs worked with Mary McLeod Bethune to organize the National Association of Wage Earners for black female domestic workers.

She was an active member of Nineteenth Street Baptist Church, Washington, D.C.

Source: “An Encyclopedia of African American Christian Heritage” by Marvin A. McMickle, Judson Press, 2002.