From the hills of rural Kentucky and in spite of poverty and other challenges, Rev. E. Edwin LeMaster arose to make a difference in the lives of many Angolans.
While in Wilmore, Kentucky, attending Asbury Theological Seminary, he proposed to Virginia who was attending nursing school. She recalled, “When he asked me to marry him, I asked him if he was going to Africa.” He had already made plans to serve in Africa and was not sure how she would take the news. Apparently, she had also felt a calling to Africa since she was a younger teenager. His going reaffirmed for her a commitment to say yes to the Lord.
Ed received a B.A. degree from Asbury College, a B.D. degree from Asbury Theological Seminary, both in Wilmore, and a M.A. degree from Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana. Prior to going to Africa, he served as pastor for seven years in the Kentucky Conference and two years in the North Indiana Conference.
With a commitment to one another and to God, he and Virginia went to Portugal for language study and then to Angola. They served there from 1952 to 1961. Their two children, Kathryn and David, were born while in Quessua mission station. Ed served as the director of the central training station and of William Taylor Institute, a boys’ elementary school. He established the secondary education school for training teachers for village work. In April 1961, his wife and children were evacuated from the country because of the start of the revolution for independence.
Higher education was a threat to the Portuguese colonial system. It was in September 1961 that he and three other missionaries were imprisoned for 3 months. He was accused of “activities subversive” to the Portuguese government. They were detained in the prisons in Malange, Luanda and for the last 10 weeks, in Lisbon, Portugal. The Angolans have declared that their imprisonment was most effective in calling worldwide attention to the grievances of the Angolan people. He was among the first recipients of Amnesty International’s now annual Greeting Card Campaign.
Upon returning to the U.S., Ed continued in Home Mission assignments of the United Methodist Church, under the National Division of the General Board of Global Ministries, as
- Administrator of Boylan-Haven-Mather Academy in Camden, South Carolina (a college preparatory school for African American youth) for 5 years
- Academic Dean of Sue Bennett College in London, Kentucky for 6 years
- ·Registrar at Union College in Barbourville, Kentucky for 14 years
- Retiree in 1989.
Ed has been an individual who works to help make a difference in the lives of others, in a number of other ways. He was the first director of the Appalachian Pastors School (ALPS) and was a member of the Kentucky Governor’s Developmental Disabilities Planning Council for 18 years. He served as chairman for two terms.
On May 3, 1997, in recognition of his exceptional contribution to the welfare of all persons, he was granted an Honorary Doctorate Degree of Theology.
Ed has been a member of AMSF since 1993. He has served on the board of directors and was president from 1997 – 2002. Though the time in Angola was limited, he has since then had a warm heart for its people. Being a part of AMSF has been a way to give back and do as much as he can for the people of Angola.