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Ministry Among Nurses II

Summary: There were two remarkably fruitful eras of our ministry among single women. First, the work among nurses in the US in the 1940s and 1950s, which has been well described in Dr. Bob Ridley’s article. Second was the work in London which spread out internationally from the late 1950s until the early 1980s. This is the focus of this article. Two women bridged these years: Leila Elliott and Joyce Turner. Both were nurses and both were leaders. Leila was leading a Nav nurses home in Los Angeles 1950 and then had a Bible study at the Stanford nursing school which recruited Joyce to our vision. In 1952, Joyce was given responsibility for our San Francisco nurses. She moved to London, England in 1956 as our first female staff missionary. By then, Leila had married Doug Sparks who set up his base in London for what became our Europe, Middle East, and Africa division. With Leila as his wife and Joyce on his team representing women’s ministries, Doug had excellent support in making EMA our strongest division as regards raising up godly wome


Beginnings in England
Nurses in Lebanon
Nurses in New Zealand
Singapore and Myanmar Nurses

Beginnings in England

Joyce Turner started in London in 1956 with Joy Devis, Elizabeth Armstrong, Alison Hunter, and Audrey Holmes. She moved in initially with Joy and Elizabeth in Highgate, then moved to Golders Green, then to Westminster, and then to Clapham South.1

Beryl Stannard,2 who had come to faith in 1958 in Southampton, England, applied to five London Teaching Hospitals and was accepted at St. Thomas’s the following year. She rose to serve on the executive of the Christian Union and, when Maureen Dawson and Pat Lawler began Bible studies in 1962 for nurses who wanted to go deeper in the Scriptures, Beryl signed up.

Our work among nurses at some of these London hospitals3 blossomed in the 1960s. It helped that student nurses typically lived in halls of residence provided by the hospitals until their third or fourth year.4

There was no friction at that time between the hospital Christian Unions and The Navigators. Many CU people were hungry for more practical and applicational teaching than they gleaned from Sunday sermons in London’s evangelical churches. Also, until the late 1960s, hospitals differed from universities in not having a graduate training program.

Chris Markby (Treneer)5 trained at Westminster Hospital. She specialized in clinical training, so that she could stay on and teach. She recalls that, in her first year (1963), Celia Goshawk (Nicholson) knocked on her door and invited her to a Nav Bible study, and followed her up.

Beryl left St. Thomas’s in October 1963 and, after three months assisting Doris Diddams in the Nav office in Wimbledon, moved back to Southampton to be near her widowed mother. She enrolled in midwifery at Southampton General Hospital. Soon, she had formed a Bible study group, and this ministry expanded with guest speakers such as Joyce Turner and Doug Sparks. Also, there were evangelistic studies. Beryl became the leader and her nurses participated in several Nav conferences.

We had no men’s work in Southampton until Ian and Vicki Munro arrived in 1967 to begin a ministry at the University. By then, Beryl was able to leave the nurses’ work in the hands of Celia Goshawk and accept Pat Lawler’s invitation to move back to London and live in her training flat in Clapham, and return to St Thomas’s as a tutor.6

Chris Markby (Treneer) went for a year to Southampton for midwifery7 training (1967-1968). She then moved to Loughborough (1968-1969) for a year, where she lived in Sarah Beeston’s flat. By 1970, she was back at Westminster teaching in what proved to be a very fruitful environment for the Gospel. Chris married Mike Treneer in 1971.

The Navigators encouraged church attendance. Chris started to attend Westminster Chapel but moved to St. Helen’s, Bishopsgate because the sermon was easier for younger believers. Often, she would take people to guest services at John Stott’s London church: All Souls.

In 1969, Beryl assumed responsibility for the central Bible studies in the several flats on the West Side of Clapham Common in southwest London. By then, around 120 women came for study every Friday, spreading out among our various flats. The program also included half days of prayer and occasional conferences. Perhaps 50 percent of those participating were nurses, the rest mainly teachers and secretaries.8

These flats were owned by Pat Lawler or her parents, and Joyce Turner had her flat close by. At maximum, there were six flats in Clapham used as residential training situations for Nav women. Joyce Turner and Pat Lawler divided the leaders between them for advanced training which was called Family Counsel.9

Mature women lived in both West Side homes and formed an inner circle around Pat Lawler. Among them were Ann Horsford, Paddy Paddon-Row, Jean Douglas, and Barbara Stair. Their focus was on depth in the Word. Training included how to disciple women and help them in turn disciple others.

The majority of the regular participants in the studies were nurses or physiotherapists.

Beryl moved to her own flat in Vauxhall in 1969 and tended to have staying with her women from other countries who had come to London for further Nav training, as did Lawler and Turner.

By 1970, London had become the epicenter of women’s ministry in The Navigators. At the same time, we were sending out women10 from London to be Navigators in other countries: Maureen Dawson to Norway, Jean Lightfoot to the Netherlands, Celia Goshawk and Barbara Stair to Lebanon, Judy Leonard to New Zealand, Sarah Beeston to the USA, Lena Hagegard to Kenya. Lena had lived with Pat before Kenya and with Joyce after Kenya.

This ministry was very intensive, especially in that most of our leaders had secular employment. Pat Lawler maintained very high standards, as regards dress and domestic arts. Women were constantly coming and going, and our bases were the residential flats. Many visitors, also.

Nurses came from other countries to work and participate in the ministry. For example, “Our Swedish nurse Eivor Niklasson, who has carried a big load in the Swedish office and in ministry among nurses, will arrive in London this month for a six-month tour of duty in a children’s hospital—and to work with the England group.”11

The numbers in ministry peaked around 1970. By then, our international passion for counting our fruit had reached London. Lists of actual and potential disciple-makers were required. As Beryl recalls, this “nearly drove dear Pat mad.” It changed the atmosphere.

In 1971, Pat suffered a breakdown.12 Beryl was appointed full-time staff in June 1972 and given responsibility for ministries at St Thomas’s and Westminster hospitals. She was also traveling with Joyce Turner in the provinces and cities where our nascent university ministries were growing, to identify women at Robb Powrie-Smith’s request who would become leaders of our student ministries alongside the men.

Judy Botting became the overall leader for the Clapham Common flats, with Mary Piper (Fox) and Jenny Batt (Maugham) in support. As Beryl focused more on nurses, Judy took responsibility for the central studies. Then in August 1972, Beryl moved to Birmingham where she lived with Ingebjorg Lindheim to co-labor with Steve Covell, who had come from the US as a staff trainer.

Pat Spivey, raised up in the ministry at St Thomas’s, had moved to Southampton to work with the Treneers, and Paddy Paddon-Row came on staff in London.

Sarah Beeston’s Account

Now, let’s draw from Sarah Beeston’s account13 of her ministry with The Navigators.

Sarah was a student physiotherapist in London between 1959 and 1962, becoming a believer through a neighbor. After qualifying, she moved into a flat with three unbelievers and, while attending All Souls Church, was invited to a Nav women’s Bible study in Victoria, ending in Judy Gibbons’s study group.

In 1964, she moved with Paddy Paddon-Row into another flat in Barnes. Paddy then moved into Pat Lawler’s flat in Clapham, while Sarah moved into Ann Rutherford’s flat in Putney and then into 84 West Side with Pat from 1966 to 1968. Sarah recalls:

The women’s flats were quite regimented with a lot of rules and responsibilities. We all took our turn at doing everything. Loads of people were coming in and out, with weekly Bible studies and other meetings. We were all given responsibilities to welcome people. Serving was underlined . . . both one another and those visiting. There was a big emphasis on goal setting and good use of time. We were expected to develop our objectives for life and ministry and to use our time well. . . . I counted those years as a privilege and a wonderful opportunity.14

Sarah recalls Pat Lawler’s background. Her father owned garages and she was the bookkeeper in his business. “She was very practical in the home and in achieving high standards for herself and others. Her real strength was in one-to-one work. She had an ability to spot people with potential leader qualities and, as she got to know people, she was very insightful and unafraid to challenge and help them. She would go to any length to help someone, once she had identified their needs.”

During those years, Joyce Turner had a flat close by on Nightingale Lane. With her were Unni Tharaldsen, Wil Doornenbal, Jean Lightfoot, and subsequently, Jean Douglas.

By then, Sarah was working as a physiotherapist at Guy’s Hospital in New Cross, in charge of the out-patient department. She went to Loughborough from 1968 to 1970, then to Manchester when Judy Leonard left for New Zealand. In 72, she was invited to take an assignment in Birmingham, Alabama15 to help Chuck and Pat Singletary with the work among women. Her assignment, as the only single Women’s Rep in the southern USA, was to train younger women, many of whom were students. She was welcomed and valued throughout the southeast, though the intent was to establish a women’s ministry rather than to provide leadership training. Culturally, there was a strong expectation that women would marry.

Sarah returned to England in 1975, where she worked in London for two years, taking a job at Roehampton Hospital where Judy Botting was a nursing sister. She re-entered physiotherapy at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel. For two years, she led the flat at 82 West Side, leaving our staff in 1977,16 as “there was a shrinkage and the ministry was less clearly defined . . . and much more integrated, with more events for men and women.”

By 1973, there were thirteen women around the UK responsible for our various ministries. In Birmingham, primarily nurses led by Margaret Taylor and Judy Botting. In Sheffield, primarily nurses led by Margie Clark from Westminster Hospital.

Pat Lawler had recovered her health, but decided to join the staff at St Helen’s Bishopsgate as a Nav resource, teaming with the strong ministry that Ed Reis was steering among the young men17 working at Lloyds and in the City. The focal point was the Tuesday lunchtime teaching sessions at St Helen’s by Rev. Dick Lucas, which drew several hundred every week.

Cultural shifts in the UK were beginning to surface, but in 1975 there were still 350 women in our Bible studies as well as another one hundred in evangelistic studies. The following year, there were still sixty in the London evangelistic studies.

Robb Powrie-Smith gave his staff women a lot of freedom, so long as they were co-laboring with male staff.18 Our UK focus in the early 1970s had become collegiate ministries.

By 1978, there were fourteen women in leadership in the UK, either as Representatives or as staff trainees. The climate, more inferred than explicit, was that women should ideally be married, but there were very few godly single men of stature in the ministry.

In London, as late as 1978, there were still far more women than men in the Navigator work. Earlier, when joint conferences were held, Joyce and Pat and Beryl restrained numbers of women from attending to avoid overpowering the men!

By 1978, Maureen Dawson had returned from Australia. She took over the student ministries and Beryl became responsible for the community (non-student) ministries, working closely with Tony Rogerson in London who had returned from the US Air Force Academy. Beryl and Maureen both served on our UK leadership team.

In 1982, there were still twenty-two women living in our four remaining training flats in London, but the ministries among women and men were not flourishing as they had been ten years earlier. In fact, 1980 was the peak year for new disciple-makers, both in the UK and in Western Europe as a whole.19

Another factor was that Doug Sparks had ceased to be EMA director in 1978, and his successor Jim Downing did not communicate the same level of commitment to women’s ministries.

In 1986, Maureen Dawson resigned in distressing circumstances. The ensuing disillusionment was deep, and our women leaders no longer traveled around the UK. To some extent, the ministry among women disintegrated.

Beryl, after taking a break for several months in the US in 1987, worked for a while in our London office. Then, encouraged by Dick Lucas, she enrolled at Oak Hill College and gained a degree in theology. In 1992, she was among the first group of women ordained as Anglican priests.

Nurses in Lebanon

We should also note the concentration of trained nurses in Lebanon.20 In addition to Marilyn V., there were Trudie Crawford, Liz Lampitt, Barbara Stair, Anita Daoud (Marsman), Ida Honey (Angier)—all of whom were ministry leaders.

During her first two years, Anita Marsman served as nursing supervisor at the American University Hospital in Beirut. In early 1966, after Anita had finished work on her master’s degree in nursing education, she moved into a teaching position at the American University of Beirut as a Nav staff in order to work with women.”21 In that position, she made contact with women on the AUB campus, investing the most time in discipling Nadia Rabah who later married Bisharah Libbous and Amal Zachariah who later married Raja Tanas.22

Barbara went from London to Beirut in 1968 for an assignment of two years. She helped Muna Audeh (Zahr) reach women at the American university, allowing Anita Marsman to concentrate on language study.23 Barbara had trained extensively in London, living with Pat Lawler and then Joyce Turner.

Also in 1968, Sandi Virga joined Trudie Crawford on the supervisory and teaching staff of the Christian Medical Center Hospital in Beirut. Nate M. reported that the Lord was at work among the Armenian student nurses, with thirteen out of the eighteen students being in Bible study. Dzaghig B. and Sirvard S. emerged from this initiative. Sandy and Trudie had both lived with Ruth Holmsten in Sacramento. Millie Young was another contributor.

Nurses in New Zealand

Judy Gibbons’s training in the UK resulted in the planting of a nurses’ ministry in New Zealand. In 196424 Judy, a nurse from New Zealand, was planning to return home after several years in England.25 She had qualified as a nurse in 1961 and believed God wanted her to travel to Denmark with another nurse, Elaine Hadfield, to a Nurses Christian Fellowship summer conference. There, she met Eivor Nicklasson from the Swedish Navigators. Soon after, at the annual Keswick convention in the UK Lake District, Judy met Joyce Turner who was leading the small group of Navigator women in London.

A few weeks later, Judy attended the NCF house party at Embley Park, Florence Nightingale’s former home. Here, she met Ann Horsford who invited Judy to the Navigator flat in London, where she was mentored and trained. She had taken part in the first English Nav conference at Balliol College, Oxford.26

The nurses’ work in London was expanding fast: many came to Christ and there soon were nine follow up Bible study groups. This prompted Joyce Turner to arrange for Judy a developmental three-month tour of US Nav women’s works. The Lord led Judy, after returning to New Zealand, to move to Christchurch in 1965 and become secretary to Joe Simmons. However, she had time to continue outreach among nurses including Sheena White through whom she gained an entry to nurses and working women in Christchurch.27 Judy and Sheena participated in an NCF conference at Tirohanga28 where they came into contact with many nurses at various stages of spiritual development.

Also in New Zealand, in the summer of 1966-1967, Joe Simmons and Judy set up and ran the first basics summer task force.29

We recruited many, including future leaders, from the YMCA in Christchurch and served in leading their chapel services.30 American Reps Marv and Georgette Smith settled in Auckland in 1967, followed by Warren and Hilve Mason in 1968. The Masons settled in Christchurch “to look after the three-ring circus that it had become—students, single working men, and nurses.”

Singapore and Myanmar Nurses

In Singapore, Phyllis Robertson had a vital ministry with the Nurses Christian Fellowship in the mid-1960s, meeting regularly with their leader Rosalind Lien and other nurses. There was a generational emphasis, although the arrival of Dave Dawson in Singapore later altered the focus to “growing our own” in student ministries.

Jim Chew mentions that we also had a significant ministry among nurses in Myanmar, through Naw Say Bay. One of Say Bay’s key girls, Paw Ti No, was a nurse to the mother of Aung San Suu Kyi and was able to lead Suu Kyi’s mother to Christ before she passed away. Some of our Burmese nurses also came to Singapore.31

(Principal sources for this article include interviews with Joyce Turner, Sarah Beeston, Beryl Stannard, Marilyn V.)

See also articles on:

A Pedestal of Influence by Dr. Bob Ridley
Men and Women Partnering

By Donald McGilchrist
3683 words


  1. These references are to suburbs or segments of London.
  2. The following paragraphs are largely drawn from recollections by Beryl.
  3. St. Thomas’s, Guys, Westminster.
  4. Students took three years to qualify and then had one year as an intern.
  5. Markby was Chris’s last name at the time, so that is the primary name mentioned, followed by her later, married name in parentheses. This format occurs throughout the article.
  6. Mary Piper (Fox) became Beryl’s assistant in the preliminary training school, chosen so as to secure more time with incoming nursing students. Matron, though not a believer, knew and accepted this, as long as there was no “favoritism” for believers.
  7. One had to deliver one hundred babies in the first three months!
  8. We benefited from the training effect of having two Graham Crusades in London in 1966 and 1967. Many of the women went to the training and we provided part of the follow-up.
  9. This was oriented to deeper studies in prayer among the elite (around a dozen women), not especially toward future family life.
  10. The US Navigators were slowly changing their vocabulary to refer to women rather than girls. Joyce had persuaded Doug Sparks to refer to women in his EMA division. In April 1972, Lorne Sanny began to appoint women Representatives.
  11. “Dear Gang,” October 2, 1964. Later, “she was delayed in Sweden because of her mother’s illness. She has now joined the London team for a time and will probably major in reaching nurses.” (“Dear Gang,” January 29, 1965).
  12. This was not unique. In the US, Larry Whitehouse and Alan Andrews had similar crises as they led demanding and expanding ministries.
  13. Interviewed on March 18, 2015.
  14. In Pat’s flat at 84 West Side, she then had Paddy Paddon-Row, Barbara Stair and, in year two, Beryl Stannard.
  15. Later, Chuck amd Sharon Steen. Jean Snedegar and Renee Connolly (Jaeschke) were sent to be with Sarah.
  16. Sarah qualified as a teacher of physiotherapy and then did a master’s in education and ended as head of the School of Health Sciences.
  17. James Broad (UK director) and Peter Butler (UK chairman) were among many who came out of this vibrant ministry.
  18. Beryl co-authored a paper with Joyce Turner on the girls work in February 1976. Also, she wrote on “Career Planning for Women Staff” in July 1983. The February 1976 paper did not receive the attention it deserved.
  19. Source: McGilchrist’s article on “Western Europe History,” February 2013, p. 9.
  20. The Middle East was part of the EMA division, led in those years by Doug Sparks. Anita Marsman had been involved earlier with the nurses in San Francisco.
  21. “Dear Gang,” October 15, 1965.
  22. Source: Double Helix, Scott, p. 398. Mercifully, Anita and other staff were attending a conference in London when the Six Day War broke out in 1967.
  23. Source: “Dear Gang” letter of August 30, 1968. Ida was married to Pete Angier.
  24. Also, in 1964, a girls’ seminar was held in the Pink House. Joyce Turner was visiting from the UK, and she and Sanny were speakers. A farewell for “detribalized” Ann Horsford, who led Jeanie McGilchrist to Christ, was incorporated. Source: Glen Eyrie Journal, 1964.
  25. “Dear Gang,” November 13, 1964.
  26. At which I came to Christ through the preaching of George Sanchez and the guidance of Doug Sparks, in September 1961.
  27. This was in 1966. Sheena later joined Nav staff as a women’s Rep.
  28. A photograph of this Tirohanga conference shows more than thirty nurses participating, some of whom later joined the Nav environment in Christchurch, including Wanaka Martin and Tui Muir.
  29. A residential course of two weeks, mostly for single young disciples. Thirty-five slept on the floor of the Nelson Baptist Church hall and some 2,500 people were contacted in evangelism. Marv and Georgette Smith moved to New Zealand in 1967 and settled in Auckland, ministering at the second summer task force where there were as many as sixty-five participants.
  30. The YMCA team included Roger Clibborn, Kelepi Mailau, Sandy Fairservice. For others involved, see Chapter 2 of Generations of Disciples.
  31. Source: Chew to McGilchrist of March 5, 2015.


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