Edited by AZI Staff
Photos by Norman Lansden
Mother Ruby Edwards celebrated her 100th birthday on March 8. A reception was held in her honor on Wednesday, March 4, sponsored by the First Institutional Baptist Church (FIBC) Century Club and hosted by the Rev. Shirley Lewis. The FIBC Century Club consists of FIBC members who have reached age 89 and above. Many of these golden treasures are unable to attend church on a regular basis due to their age or health problems. Mother Edwards is currently the oldest member of the FIBC congregation. “Mother” is a term of respect within the church for senior women who are leaders among churchwomen and have demonstrated wisdom and knowledge in matters of family and faith.
The historic event was held in the FIBC Hope Center and included members of Mother Edward’s family, which spans four generations, members of FIBC as well as friends and neighbors.
Mother Edwards was born in March 1915 to Leonard and Willie Mann Raglin in Groesbeck, Texas. Three sisters and one brother completed this union. Her father was a postal worker and was eventually transferred to San Francisco, California.
He passed away at age 33 leaving his family in dire distress. The family became affiliated with St. Mary’s Catholic Church of San Francisco where her early education and Christian training began. The benevolence ministry of the church provided assistance to the family following the father’s death.
After graduation from St. Mary’s High School, Mother Edwards married Alwood Albert Young. Mr. Young worked in Life Science at the Hazelton Nuclear facility in Palo Alto, California. He was also a gospel singer with the Spiritual Five in Oakland, California. Together the couple founded and managed Young’s Sheltered Care Center, Inc., in California and New Mexico. Mr. Young passed away in 1993. Mother Edwards retired this same year and moved to Arizona.
Mother Edwards later married Dr. H. Franklin Edwards who received a Ph.D from Arizona State University and was a graduate of the Theology School of the South and the Episcopal Theology Seminary of the Southwest. Dr. Edwards served as music director at the historical Carver High School in Phoenix, which is now the Carver Museum. Dr. Edwards passed away in 2008.
Mother Edwards attended San Jose State College and the West Valley College of Business Administration in Cupertino, California.
She served as the Health Care Director at the San Francisco Medical Editing/Auditing Department. She also attended Stanford University Medical Center where she received her RN certification.
She has served as a Board member of Phoenix College Life-Long Learning, and as a Board member of the Washington Avenue Senior Center.
She united with FIBC in 2008 where she was active in the Sunday school, Weekly Bible Study, the Home Alone Ministry and the Transportation Ministry.
Mother Edwards commented “I am overjoyed to be a part of this beautiful Christian family and highly blessed to have Pastor Warren Stewart as my pastor as well as all of the ministers, deacons, teachers, and loving members who make it all possible. I am blessed more to be called one of the Mothers of the church.”
Mother Edwards is the mother of three children, Renee, Jason, and Aubrey. She has “mothered” many others during her lifetime.
Dr. Warren H. Stewart, Sr., senior pastor of the First Institutional Baptist Church commented, “God be praised for Mother Ruby Edwards reaching her 100th birthday. She has been a valuable instrument anointed by God. She is a dedicated Christian and devoted wife, mother and grandmother, a churchwoman par excellence, an inspiration to four generations, a seasoned saint and an enthusiastic supporter of her Pastor. That’s why I read from Psalm 100 on her 100th birthday celebration: “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.” We rejoice that Mother Ruby Edwards has been around for a century!”
photos by norman lansden