By Melissa Lauber
Eunice Mathews acknowledges applause from delegates and guests
Love. Reverence. Awe.
It’s hard to think about the life story of Eunice Jones Mathews without feeling the compelling love of Christ shine through.
Bishop Susan Morrison called her “the last of Methodist royalty.” Daughter of the world-renowned missionary E. Stanley Jones and wife of Bishop James K. Mathews, who as a child played with monkeys and fell asleep reading under the moon in India, Eunice Mathews died Feb. 27.
She was 101 years old.
She was a member of Metropolitan Memorial UMC in Washington, D.C. In 2004, Mathews was called before the General Conference in Pittsburgh so that United Methodists from around the world could celebrate her life and wish her Happy Birthday.
In response, Mathews simply said, she did not want to be defined by her relationships. “I am free to be myself,” she said, “a freedom I have in Jesus Christ.”
Over the years, Bishop Marcus Matthews developed a special relationship with Eunice Mathews. “She saw in me what I did not always see in myself my early days of ministry. She was brave. She spoke
These values were instilled in Mathews when she was a girl, growing up in India.
In the book, “A Love Affair with India,” Chamberlain explores how Eunice, born on April 29, 1914, in Lucknow, India, was able, with the help of her Muslim cook,
Growing up, Mathews was deeply influenced by her faithful and indomitable mother, Mabel, also a Methodist missionary who was a pioneer, creating and leading a boy’s primary school in northern India.
After taking a typing course, Mathews brought a valuable gift to her father, E. Stanley Jones, editing and typing 25 of his books.
Her father’s writings changed the world, influencing such thinkers as Mahatma
In addition to inspiring a non-violent approach to dramatic social change,
As she grew into an adult, Mathews did all of these things.
In 1939, she met the Rev. Jim Mathews, who was 25 and a new pastor, serving as a missionary. He went to hear her famous father speak and admitted at his first meeting with Eunice he was “smitten when she walked into the room and into my life.”
Not too much later, Mathews sold his typewriter and used the money to help buy a wedding ring. The coupled married June 1,
In 1946, their first child, Anne, was born. The new family settled in New York City. In due course, they welcomed their second daughter, Janice, and son, Stan.
In 1960, while
The Jurisdictional Conference had met. He had been elected a bishop in absentia. Unable to contact him, they informed Eunice. The family packed quickly and drove to Washington, D.C., arriving at 3 a.m., Chamberlain wrote. That morning they were presented to the Conference and learned of Jim’s appointment to the Boston Area.
As mission leaders in the church, their work took them to every state in the U.S. and six continents. Together, they spoke to presidents, Queen Elizabeth II
Mathews authored the book “Drug Abuse: Summons to Community Action,” and co-authored with her father, the book “The Divine Yes.” Later, she was elected as the first female vice-president of the denomination’s General Commission on Archives and History.
In 1972, Jim and Eunice Mathews moved to the Baltimore-Washington Area, where he was assigned to serve as bishop. As an American citizen with no hometown, Mayor Donald Schaefer made Eunice a citizen of Baltimore.
In 1975, Bishop James K. Mathews ordained Marcus Matthews as an Elder in the Baltimore-Washington Conference.
Over the years, Eunice Mathews had welcomed Marcus Matthews and his wife, Barbara, into their home, sometimes to dine with ambassadors and other dignitaries. “Eunice had the gift of global hospitality,” he said.
Thirty-seven years later, in 2012, having himself become a bishop in The United Methodist Church, Bishop Marcus Matthews walked down the aisle of Metropolitan Memorial UMC as part of a service celebrating his becoming the leader of the Baltimore-Washington Conference.
Bishop Matthews walked the length of the gothic sanctuary and on the altar turned and saw Eunice Mathews. He didn’t hesitate. The bishop walked back down the aisle and embraced Eunice Mathews.
“She was a tremendous presence, a life-giving force in our church,” he said. “She will be missed.”