Women's Ministry


December 2023

RUTH – Memorial Write-up

Ruth was a true Minnesotan girl. Born Ruth Marie Bauer in St. Paul on August 5, 1951, she grew up on a small farm southwest of Minneapolis and recounted stories of walking - and riding a horse - to school in the winter snows and helping her father on their small property by forking the hay on the hay cart in summer. She was the eldest of five, with four younger brothers. That meant helping her mother look after them – and as a result the brothers nicknamed her “management”.

Her parents, Fred and Ruby, were foundation members of the Minneapolis congregation of our fellowship and ultimately were ordained deacon and deaconess. In those days, regardless of how arduous the travel was, and how short the funds were, the annual festival was not to be missed and in the early years their nearest was in Big Sandy, Texas, nearly 1000 miles away.

Ruth also attended the very first year of the Summer Educational Program of the church in Orr, northern Minnesota – a pioneering experience to test your mettle.

In 1969, she was accepted to Ambassador College in Pasadena, CA, and at the age of 18 saw the sea for the first time.

In the summer of 1972, she was accepted to the team of students sent from Pasadena to work on an archeological excavation in Jerusalem at the temple mount site in conjunction with student groups from the Texas and UK campuses of the College. This is where she met her future husband, Rod Matthews, from Australia who was part of the contingent from the Bricket Wood campus in the UK.

After those 10 weeks together, they returned to their respective campuses and the relationship sparked in Israel continued by letter through their final year. They were reunited in the USA as Rod returned home to be employed by the church in Australia. It took Ruth three months to get a visa but they were finally married in Blackheath, Australia in October 1973.

Their two sons were born in Australia, before future assignments for the church took them to Pasadena (Rod working in the international office of the church), then to the Philippines for 5½ years and finally back to Australia.

Ruth’s role of support to Rod’s as regional director in the Philippines, Australia and then Asia and Oceania, brought her into contact with hundreds of people from many cultures. She related well to them all and gained many friends and much respect with her ability to listen, understand, identify and empathize with them.

In being the anchor at home during Rod’s absences travelling for the church, Ruth used social media adeptly to strengthen and expand her international connections. She was invited to speak at local women’s retreats and this expanded to invitations from further afield. Ruth was guest speaker in church women’s conferences in New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore and Fiji as well as in Australia.

She was asked to give messages to her local Gold Coast congregation, and as an integral part of the pastoral team there, was ordained as an elder on December 13, 2020, only the second woman to be ordained in our fellowship in Australia.

Behind these scenes Ruth also wrote monthly articles that were posted on the GCI Australasian Women’s Ministry website that were widely read and appreciated because they were clear, down-to-earth and practical yet creative and with great depth. They nurtured by word - another reflection of her nature and her responsiveness to the motivation of the Spirit.

Ruth was diagnosed with cancer in early 2022 and underwent intermittent sessions of treatment in the two years that followed. She passed away on November 12th 2023. She is survived by three of her four brothers, sons Tim and his wife, Erica, Ben and his wife Sarah, and eight grandchildren spread over two continents.

Her positive impact on the lives of people all over the world was reflected by the hundreds of Facebook entries posted after her death and the number of condolence cards received. As one close friend wrote, “Ruth had a real gift of making anyone who came into her orbit feel like they were her best friend.” Another summed it up with, “She was so genuine, loving, joyful and faithful.” Her kindness, generosity, humour and love were simply reflections of her walk with Jesus; and the depth of Spirit in her messages will be greatly missed. As a close relative so succinctly put it, she was a beacon of love and light.

Rod and Ruth’s entire family thank you for your love, support and encouragement.