Remembering the Life of a Pioneering Pastor, Anointed Advocate, Trailblazing Teacher, Magnificent Mother, and Noble Nana.
Susie B. Thomas was born on April 17, 1928. She was the mother of 3, and an inspiration to thousands. The extraordinary combination of being fierce as a lion and gentle as a lamb has yielded a life that demonstrated the manifold grace of God.
Susie was the fourth child of five children born to Islom and Sarah Ansley in Piney, TX. Her father was a coal-miner and her mother, a homemaker. In her early years, she realized her ability to stand her ground. She was a natural-born leader. Following the path of her mother, she believed in feeding the community and helping those in need. She would continue to fight for the rights and needs of others throughout her entire life.
She attended schools in Texas and Massachusetts. Susie was a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School in Mt. Pleasant, TX. She earned a certificate from Bethel Bible School in Cambridge, MA. At age 50, she received a B.A. with a dual major in Sociology and Psychology from Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, MA. She also studied Theology at Andover Newton Theological School in Newton, MA.
Early on, Susie dreamed of becoming a fashion designer. Her desire was to relocate to California to pursue her dream. Upon the insistence of her mother, to pursue a career as a teacher, Susie decided to get married. At the age of 17, she married Ted Thomas, Sr. They were blessed with 3 children, Ted, Jr., Susie, and JoAnne. In 1951, she relocated her family to Boston, MA.
Susie began a career in nursing. It is through this career path, that she met her lifelong friend, Gladys Staples. Her first position as a nurse’s aide was at Deaconess Hospital. She continued her career at Beth Israel Hospital. In addition to nursing, she pursued a career in engineering. She was one of the few African Americans that made Raytheon products.
In her 30s, her life began to change. Susie Thomas gave her heart to the Lord during a house prayer meeting, along with her friend, Gladys. She received early teachings on the Christian life. Her faith formation was shaped under the tutelage of her spiritual father, Rev. Leonard Robinson. She felt a calling to the ministry and was later licensed to preach.
Reverend Thomas was licensed to preach in 1964 by Southern Baptist Church under the pastorate of Reverend R.D. Slater, becoming the first woman licensed by a Baptist church in the Boston area. She was ordained by United Progressive Ministry Conference in 1965. In 1966, she founded Mt. Olive Temple of Christ, a non-denominational church under Overseer Florine Reid in Dorchester, MA.
Pastor Thomas was an advocate for community involvement and justice for all people. She was instrumental in the establishment and organization of numerous community boards and ministries, such as Prison Board Ministry, Black Ecumenical Commission, Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, Dorchester AFDC (Aid for Families with Dependent Children), Friends for Mission (Haiti & St. Kitts), Foreign Missions, Africare (wells in Africa), Habitat for Humanity, AIDS Community Serving, C.O.S.T. (Churches Organized to Stop Tobacco), Voter Registration, and Boston TenPoint Coalition.
As Pastor of Mount Olive Temple of Christ, she served the congregation and community by providing uplifting worship services, food, clothing, counseling, summer camps, referral services, and an open-door policy for community meetings. Mt. Olive was also a catalyst for community partnerships. Her life’s mottos were Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me and 1 Thessalonians 5:17, pray without ceasing.
Pastor Susie B. Thomas leaves to cherish her memory: children, Ted Thomas, Jr. (Sara), Susie C. Owens (Alfred), and JoAnne Brown; grandsons, Alfred Thomas “Mookie” Owens and Rashad Cruthird; granddaughter, Kristel Moneek Woodhouse (Andrew); 9 great-grandchildren; other family members, and countless spiritual sons and daughters.