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He put a ring on my finger just before he left for Bermuda

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Ruth Ann Lambe (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
Vernon and Ruth Ann Lambe on their 59th anniversary in 2018 (Photograph supplied)
Ruth Ann and Vernon Lambe on their wedding day with her parents Marian and Clifford Cornelius (Photograph supplied)

Ruth Ann Lambe loves a good celebration.

The 82-year-old is usually the one to organise the parties and get-togethers in the family.

One of the most memorable was her and her husband Vernon's 59th wedding anniversary celebration – in 2018 the couple renewed their vows at the Unfinished Church in St George's before 300 invited guests.

This year, however, has been challenging.

Bishop Lambe, the minister of the First Church of God on North Shore Road in Pembroke, has been busy with funerals.

With many of them related to Covid-19 he agreed to be part of a television commercial telling people they had a duty to those around them to get vaccinated.

“We did receive some backlash from that,” said Mrs Lambe, who is hoping to get her booster shot soon. “But most people have been grateful.”

She was born in Chester, a rural part of Pennsylvania an hour west of Philadelphia.

Her mother, Marian Cornelius, stayed at home looking after Mrs Lambe and her nine siblings.

Her father, Clifford, installed air conditioners in the 1950s.

“He would ride a bus into the city,” she said. “He said you all think it is easy, but I have to get these big trucks into these narrow spaces between buildings. Then I have to go up on the roof.”

She thinks exposure to asbestos in those days probably damaged his health.

“He was always coughing and coughing,” said Mrs Lambe.

She met her husband while helping out her mother at a youth convention in Philadelphia In December 1957.

He was visiting from Bermuda, staying with an aunt for several months.

“The girl who introduced me to him was all dressed up and enjoying everything and there I was in a white uniform feeding people and carrying dishes,” she said.

“My sister was dating and her boyfriend had a car. We would just go and get Vernon because he was from Bermuda and didn’t know anyone. He was so kind, opening the door and being such a gentleman all the time. He sang and he was good looking. It didn’t take much.”

Just before returning to Bermuda, he proposed.

“He put a ring on my finger,” she said. “I said, 'Oh my God, I have been praying and haven’t had an answer yet.' I ran to my pastor and said, 'What am I supposed to do?' He said, 'Ask the Lord and if it is his will to let it work out, it will.'”

Bishop Lambe moved to the US after they married on August 22, 1959, and took on a number of different pastorates at churches around Pennsylvania.

Mrs Lambe had a tough time when he worked at a church in Harrisburg.

“My family was very fair-skinned,” she said. “There were only three of us who had brown skin. They used to tease me all the time and tell me how black I was. I had a terrible complex.”

But in Harrisburg she was much fairer than many of the church members.

“They thought I wanted their husbands and stuff,” she said. “I was just as innocent as could be. They did not like me for that. Maybe it was because my husband was a pastor and I had privileges they didn’t have.”

The Lambes had four children: Vernon Jr, LaVern Davis, Theresa Lambe and Antoinette Jeffers.

Mrs Lambe worked but was always at home when her children returned from school; for a long time her life revolved around them and taking care of the house.

After 17 years, the family moved to Bermuda where she jumped into the ocean at every opportunity.

Bishop Lambe started out at the First Church of God on Angle Street in Hamilton as a senior pastor.

His charismatic preaching soon filled up the place. On May 24, 1981, the Lambes led a grand procession from Angle Street to North Shore where they opened another First Church of God.

After a few years they were able to buy the property next door and expand to the 1,000-seat sanctuary that now stands.

“It’s a big church so I like to sit in the back and greet people as they come in,” Mrs Lambe said.

She ran a nursery school at the church for several years.

“Those were some of the best days of my life. I love working with children.”

Today, she loves scrap booking and writing in her spare time.

In 2013, she published a book of poetry about her life. She followed it up two years later with her husband's biography, The Man of the Cloth.

Mrs Lambe said one of the secrets to their long marriage is that they both love the Lord and strive to please him.

“My advice to young couples just starting out is to be honest with one another,” she said. “Learn to say I am sorry. Forgiveness is a big part of it, and patience.”

Being married to a preacher was not always easy.

“So many people are pulling on him and you have to wait until it is your turn,” she said. “Fortunately, when it is my turn I am well cared for.”

There are other rewards for being a minister’s wife as well.

“You get to know a lot of people,” she said. “I have learnt to love everybody and try to treat them all the same. We get invited to a lot of dinners and anniversaries.”

She has also accompanied her husband on speaking engagements and mission work around the world.

“We have been to six of the seven continents,” she said.

The Lambes have seven grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Lifestyle profiles the island’s senior citizens every Wednesday. Contact Jessie Moniz Hardy on 278-0150 or jmhardy@royalgazette.com with the full name and contact details and the reason you are suggesting them

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Published October 20, 2021 at 7:40 am (Updated October 21, 2021 at 8:16 am)

He put a ring on my finger just before he left for Bermuda

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