VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 4/24/12)—Reverend Veronica “Ronny” Lanier, age 93, of Melrose, Massachusetts, has been selected to receive the Honorary Doctorate of Divinity Degree from the American Baptist Seminary of the West. The degree will be conferred at the Allen Temple Baptist Church during the commencement exercises on May 19, 2012.
For the past 22 years, Lanier served as guide and facilitator for American Baptist International Ministries (IM) missionaries visiting Massachusetts, greeting them at the airport and scheduling their speaking engagements at local churches, in addition to her many other important roles with American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA).
Lanier will be honored for her longtime service to IM at the upcoming World Mission Conference (WMC), May 18-25 at the Green Lake Conference Center in Green Lake, WI.
Lanier is thrilled to be recognized with the honorary degree. In a letter to her, Seminary President and Professor of Pastoral Theology Dr. Paul M. Martin remarked, “You have been selected for this honor based on your lifelong contributions to the church of Jesus Christ and the ABCUSA as a seminary instructor, local church pastor and mentor to countless numbers of women and men in ministry.”
Inspired by her mother’s stories recounting the dedication of pioneer missionaries Adoniram and Ann Judson in Myanmar (Burma), 200 years ago, Lanier discerned a call to Christian service in her youth.
After graduating from Gordon College in 1954, Lanier received training at Brooks House of Christian Service in Indiana and was commissioned as a missionary by the American Baptist Home Mission Society in 1957. She served at Christian centers in Denver, Sacramento, and Chicago before joining the ministry staff of the American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts in 1964. She began as a children’s worker, overseeing curriculum and teacher training. She completed her seminary training at Andover Newton Theological School and was ordained to the Christian ministry in 1970. Lanier then served the American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts for twenty-five years as the Minister of Education.
In 1995, Lanier opened a mission house in Melrose, MA, where visiting missionaries have stayed while in the Boston area on home assignment. She has also for many years organized and hosted bus trips for American Baptists from New England to the annual WMC in Green Lake, WI.
She has served as interim pastor in several churches, most recently being named Pastor Emeritus of the First Baptist Church of Lynn, MA. She served this multicultural congregation for sixteen years, and is still involved in the church’s ministry.
In reflecting on her life in ministry and this honor from the American Baptist Seminary of the West, Lanier states, “I feel that my Lord chose me out of the multitude and my only obligation to Him was to give Him the best that I’ve got. Though my best may not be as good as somebody else’s, it’s the best that I’ve got and He’s going to get it. If I had my life to start all over again, I would do exactly what I did.”
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American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with 5,500 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.