Lydia Auxiliary started as Young People’s group in 1946 under the leadership of Mrs. Rebecca Taiwo (1946-1947) and subsequently by Miss Bykota Ebun Omikunle (1948-1949) and Miss Ibidun John (1951), respectively.
In 1952, the Young People’s group metamorphosed into Lydia Circle where young ladies were separated from younger girls. The reason for this was to help in ministering to the needs of ladies from 17 years of age (who has never been married neither has given birth to any child).in higher institutions, businesses and other life vocations. This is to stimulate interest in missions, to emphasise Christian living, to encourage daily Bible reading and prayer, bringing together all young women for the purpose of fellowship and witnessing and also to train in the art of soul winning; thereby building eligible members of WMS after marriage.
The Watchword adopted is Acts 26:18a: “To open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light…” with the hymn Hark the Voice of Jesus Calling.
The colours of the Lydia Auxiliary are purple and white. Purple symbolises royalty. In ancient times, kings and queens chose to appear in purple colour. Lydias are daughters of the King of kings. White symbolises purity. It is very important that a Lydia be clean, pure and upright with high level of moral standing in every way.
These are the ideals of the Lydia Auxiliary:
- Study of missionary message of the Bible
- Prayer for missions and missionaries
- Devoted personal service activities for the spiritually and physically needy
- Regular giving to worldwide missions
Lydia Auxiliary organisation was recognised with a purple gown taped with white, a white belt and a cap worn with a white pair of socks and canvas modeled at the Jos Convention in 1985. In 2014, a new uniform was introduced; a white shirt on a purple skirt with a beret, a thin white belt, with newly customised sock worn in a white canvas. A Lydia is expected to be neatly dressed as a peculiar treasure representing the Most High.
The circle was organised in 1952 under the leadership of Miss Mary Ellen Yancey (1952-1955). When Miss Yancey went on furlough, Miss Aduke Akinwumi (later Mama Aduke Akinola) served as the leader of the circle between 1955 and 1956 before Miss Yancey returned to continue from 1957 to 1961. Miss Yancey served as the Lydia Director with Miss Abiola Adewole as the Lydia leader (1959-1960) and Miss D. I. Akumagba (1961-1962).
In preparing the Guidebook (first print 1964), the committee charged with the responsibility recommended the change from Circle to Auxiliary. This recommendation was accepted and the organisation hitherto has been called the Lydia Auxiliary.
A pamphlet “What Are Your Questions about the Lydia Circle?” was written by Miss Yancey to help members. The first programme booklet was distributed at the first Lydia Houseparty held at Camp Young in August 1952. Much growth took place during the first 11 years of the organisation of the circle. Many young women were reached through the witness of each Auxiliary. Because of this growth and the need for more guidance, a committee composed of Mrs. R.B. Famuyiwa, Miss Nancy Owens, Mrs. W.R. Norman and Miss Louise Sparkman prepared the first Guidebook in 1964.
Miss Loise Sparkman took over as the director in 1962. She worked with Miss Filia George as the leader between 1963 and 1965. There was a little break after Miss Sparkman left. It was after this that Miss Joke Sowunmi served as the leader in 1970-1971. Miss Frances Knight also served in the Auxiliary between 1971 and 1974
The need for an indigenous director arose and in 1974, Mrs. Yemi Ladokun (later Rev. Mrs.) was prayerfully chosen as the first indigenous Lydia Director. She served in this capacity from 1974 to 2002. In her years of service, the Lord enabled her to work with some vineyard helpers among whom were Mrs. M. Anjorin Ohu and Mrs. Ebun Adekanola (now Evang. Ebun Adekanola). She entrusted these women with handling of programmes whether she was present or not.
Lydia Awards offer challenging opportunities for excelling in missionary service. The service and honour awards are recognition of an individual member of Lydia Auxiliary who has grown in missionary service by meeting the requirements listed in the Guidebook. The service Award must be completed before a lydia can begin working on the honour award.
About 10 to 15 Lydias used to qualify for Service and Honour Awards at the beginning. The missionary award project was introduced in the late 80s. In the year 2000, 1,259 Lydias completed the service award, 545 for the honour award while 256 qualified for the career missionary award.
The mantle of leadership of the Lydia Auxiliary fell on Mrs. (later Rev. Mrs.)’Tunrayo Alagbe in the year 2002. Mrs. (now Rev. Dr.) Adeyemi Sanda assisted Rev. Mrs. Alagbe for a period of time. During her tenure, Lydias became more mission minded; going to all Nigerian Baptist Convention mission fields both home and foreign. More Lydias also wrote award projects. In 2008, 4,000 Lydias submitted their award projects.
Under her leadership, national officers were chosen among the Lydias with a view to preparing the Lydias for leadership roles. During her tenure, Lydia Week was introduced to be held in the last week of July. In August 2006, the construction of a dormitory (a replica of Mobola Ayorinde Hall) was started at Camp Young by the Lydia Auxiliary; it has been completed and is already in use.
Mrs Matilda Bolanle Oyekale took over the directorate of the Lydia Auxiliary in April 2016 after the retirement of Rev. Mrs. ’Tunrayo Alagbe at the Ilorin Convention where the inauguration into office was done.
At the outset of her tenure, the Lord revealed an acronym for LYDIA as Ladies Yielded Daily for Inspiration and Adoration. It was published in a Bible liner. It is expected that when Lydias yield daily to God, it will bring about inspiration for life as they are determined to live to adore Him.
All zones have significantly grown numerically and attendance at the houseparties is on the increase.