The Rev. Ruth Chamberlain passes away at 88

It wasn’t unusual to see the Rev. Ruth M. Chamberlain at Panera Bread in Salisbury.

Often, she was there for breakfast but, true to her calling, approached strangers and talked to them about God, their souls.

“Sometimes she’d be gone all morning long, then she would come back here to the church office. She was still driving long into her 80s,” recalled Debbie Townsend, treasurer and administrator at Delmarva Evangelistic Church, who worked in the office with the Rev. Chamberlain for years and remembers her as a generous, loving woman who enjoyed telling jokes and encouraging others.

The widow of the Rev. Ray Chamberlain, longtime pastor and founder of Delmarva Evangelistic Church, she died on Oct. 19. She was 88.

Her funeral is planned for 11 a.m. today, with visitation from 10 to 11 a.m. at the church. Interment will be at Parsons Cemetery.

“I was her friend and her co-worker,” Townsend said.

“We worked side by side in the office for many years. She was always encouraging and always encouraged me to do everything as unto the Lord.

“One of the key things that stuck with me was she told me to persevere no matter what. Just keep right on going and that God had called me to do what I am doing,” Townsend said.

A church member since 1996, Townsend was hired as bookkeeper in 2005.

“I made the payroll. At that time Sister Ruth was doing all the other administrative duties. I assumed all her duties when Pastor Ray Chamberlain died in June 2005, such as keeping accounts payable, paying all the bills, all-around bookkeeping. She assumed his position as pastor,” Townsend recalled.

The Rev. Chamberlain retired as pastor in 2012.The current pastor is the Rev. Robert Gregory.

Born on May 10, 1930, in Chatham, Va., the Rev. Chamberlain was also preceded in death by her son, Daniel Ray. There were no other children, but Townsend said she loved every child in the church like her own.

Following Climax High School in Callands, Va., she moved to Baltimore saying she wanted to see the world.

In 1952, she and Dr. Chamberlain were married. He became involved in the ministry, and resumed after serving in the military.

The couple started Delmarva Evangelistic Church in Salisbury in a storefront. She was organist, music and drama director and Sunday School teacher more than 50 years, until last year when her health began to fail.

She was an instructor in the church’s Christian World College of Theology, established to help individuals prepare for ministry while juggling families and careers.

With her husband, she traveled around the world “holding evangelistic crusades and ministering to the lost,” according to her obituary.

For many years, she appeared on the Evangel Hour, sharing poems, some that she wrote. She also authored 32 Christmas plays, made the costumes and did most of the decorating.

In her obituary, Sister Ruth as she was lovingly called, is remembered for how much she cared about others.

“She was quick to make a big pot of vegetable beef soup and bring to someone who had either lost a loved one, was sick, or someone who just liked soup. She always said, ‘When you make soup, you cannot make just a little pot, you need the big pot for that.’

“She could hardly wait till the fresh vegetables were ready to pick so she could start canning.  Beets and pickles were her specialty. One year she did 65 quarts of beets and by the next summer, she had shared them all,” the obituary states.

Although she worked hard, she maintained a sense of humor.

“She loved to tell jokes. She was very witty,” Townsend said.

“She loved to give to people and to bless people. She might give you a $20 bill and say, ‘Go get yourself lunch. I love you,’” Townsend said.

“She loved and she loved hard. She was a sweetheart.”

 

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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