Dr. E. A. “Al” Lambert was born in Seattle, WA on September 5, 1927. He was the grandson of Sam Skaggs, the patriarch of the family that founded Safeway stores. Al was the son of Grace Skaggs and Earl Lambert. He inherited his keen business mind from his mother, and his creativity from his father, an aeronautical engineer and inventor of many useful airplane and household items. Al will be buried in American Falls, ID in the family plot beside his mother Grace, and his grandparents Sam and Nancy Skaggs.
Al served in the Merchant Marine in the Pacific war zone from February 1945 to September 1945. The ship that he served on in the war underwent several bombing attacks from Japanese aircraft. Immediately following World War II, he served for seventeen months in the U.S. Coast Guard. Al was an American patriot, proud to serve his country as a sailor, and proud to serve his country as a voter and crusader for morality in local government. It was very important to Al that his children and grandchildren know the truth about history, and WW II, in particular. All of them can recount Al's “war stories”.
Al felt the undeniable call to God's full-time ministry while serving in the Pacific. He had been arguing with God about this for several months, and found himself, similar to Jonah, “in the belly of his Merchant Marine ship” agreeing to follow the Lord's plan for his life. He yielded to God’s call to become a minister on August 8, 1945 at Bataangas, Philippine Islands, only days before the war ended. This commitment set the course of Al's life from that point on.
Al was a graduate of Bethel College in St. Paul, MN and of Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, KS. Judson College of Elgin, IL conferred on him the Doctor of Divinity degree in 1980. The citation read in part, “For outstanding ministry in the local church, the community, and in the denomination of American Baptist Churches, USA.”
He was married in 1949 to Edith Lovegren, daughter of American Baptist missionaries in China. They were classmates at Bethel and married in the seminary chapel and celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary this past June. To their union were born four children: Mark, Faith, Jon and Charity. Mark and Jon are Baptist ministers, and Faith and Charity are actively serving the Lord in their churches. Family was very important to Al. His commitment to Edie was total and their relationship stood strong through good times and difficult times. Through the ups and downs of growing and maturing, each of Al's children and grandchildren were able to see firsthand that Dad/Grandpa loved them and wanted what was best for them, even if what was needed was “tough love”. Al's children and grandchildren are thankful for the many ways that he made it possible for them to spend time together-by encouraging and financing several whole-family gatherings, and bringing grandchildren together from distant places so that they could learn to know not only their grandparents, but also their uncles, aunts, and cousins. He was most proud of his family, especially that all his kids, grandkids and their spouses are actively serving Christ. He is survived by his wife, four children, 16 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren (just for the record: this includes the 3 great-grandchildren that are already present in their mother's wombs).
Al and Edie served American Baptist churches in Leoti, KS; Minot, ND; Topeka, KS; Overland Park, KS; Bellflower, CA and San Bernardino, CA. He was known for his work for Civil Rights in the 1960s in Kansas and received death threats after he invited an African American church to share their building after theirs had burned down. In typical fashion, these threats did not deter Al from the course that the Lord had set before him. New church buildings were built during his time as pastor in Leoti, Minot, Overland Park and San Bernardino. The Bellflower Friendship Manor, an eight story high rise senior citizen ministry, was erected during his pastorate in Bellflower.
Al served his denomination for seven years as the Minister of World Missions and Stewardship for the American Baptist Churches of the Pacific Southwest. In this position he traveled widely among Baptist work at home and abroad. After his “retirement,” he served as interim pastor at ABCPSW churches in San Diego, Brawley, Huntington Beach, Garden Grove and Ridgecrest. All of his pastorates showed growth in attendance or budget during his time there and usually both.
Throughout his life and ministry, God used Al's particular talents and abilities to further His kingdom. Al's business sense and “common sense”, as well as his strong leadership skills and deep love for Christ made him a strong pastor-leader. God took a young man with speech impediments and transformed his willing voice into a strong preacher of the gospel. God used Al's considerable athletic abilities to draw men into the fellowship of the church, and into relationship with the Lord. He used Al's unwavering dedication to biblical morality to help steer people toward God's Truth in their personal lives, as well as in society.
Al Lambert was an “ordinary man” who yielded his life and purpose into the hands of an extraordinary God. Al's life is a testament to the strong faith of a praying man who placed his trust in an unshakeable Savior. His last prayer, mere moments before leaving this earth, was, “Lord, help me to have strength.” Edie recounts that immediately after praying this prayer, Al's physical strength failed him and God answered Al's prayer by giving him the promised reward for one of God's strong warriors...a “welcome home, good and faithful servant”.