Gordon L. Bottemiller, American Baptist Foreign Mission Society (ABFMS) alumnus, passed away at the age of 95, on Palm Sunday, April 10, 2022, in Phoenix, Arizona. Gordon, a minister’s son, was born on March 19, 1927 in Portland, Oregon to Harold and Beatrice Bottemiller.
In the summer of 1936 Gordon was baptized at Chico, California. His acceptance of Christ matured in a Christian home. The family, composed of three girls and two boys, was held together closely by active Christian fellowship, the practice of united family worship, and the participation of each member in the church of which their father was the pastor. An increased measure of family responsibility fell to Gordon when his father served as chaplain in World War II.
Early on Gordon had had a deep concern for service to humanity through medicine and focused his studies in high school towards the direction of pre-medical requirements. Gordon’s inclination was to make medicine his career and he dedicated his life to Christ with the aim of becoming a medical missionary. The army interrupted Gordon’s schooling when he entered military service in June 1945. During this time he served with the medical corps in Korea. He returned to college and upon graduation married Lois Currie on February 14, 1949. He worked in a hospital for a year waiting for the door he sought to open to him. When a medical career seemed impossible, he put his desire for missionary service aside and enrolled in seminary at Berkeley Baptist Divinity School, graduated, and became a pastor. He was ordained in January 1953. In 1954 he became the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Morenci, Arizona.
The call to missionary service refused to lie dormant and he and Lois sought an appointment with the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society (ABFMS). Gordon and Lois were appointed on January 15, 1957 to serve in Congo. Following the appointment, they took some intensive courses on Africa and began French language study before sailing for the Congo. The Bottemiller family, including three children, Sandra, Cynthia and Terry, sailed on March 19, 1958 for Belgium where they further studied French. In 1959, the family arrived in Congo. Their first station was at Nsona Mpangu where Gordon taught in the secondary school.
In July of 1960, just three weeks after the birth of son, Gregory, in Kimpese, the Bottemiller family was evacuated by the United States Air Force because of the strife in The Congo in connection with granting independence. Following deputation work, Gordon accepted the pastorate of the Maryvale Baptist Church in Phoenix, Arizona.
In 1963, Gordon and Lois were reinstated as missionaries and the family happily returned to The Congo. Stationed at Kikongo, Gordon taught geography, New Testament, and Old Testament in the Pastors’ School; he also directed and taught in the secondary school. Lois taught first year English, conducted the choir at the Pastor’s school, directed the school for the wives of students in the Pastors’ School, and she also taught several missionary second and third graders.
From 1971-1977, and again from 1980 to 1987, Gordon and Lois dedicated themselves to being houseparents in Kinshasa. Caring for children of missionaries who worked in remote areas, they provided a loving and caring family environment. Both of them were very active in the International Protestant Church of Kinshasa where Gordon served on the Commission of Twelve and Lois provided music for the church and choir. Those years were a great contribution to the total mission work in Zaire.
Gordon and Lois served again at Kikongo from 1978-1980. Their final missionary term, 1988 to 1991, was spent teaching at the Bible Institute and Women’s School at Kimpese. Gordon’s contribution to church leadership education, and thus the growth of the church of Zaire was significant.
As Gordon and Lois reflected upon their long and distinguished career, they wrote, “We leave Zaire with the certainty that we have been here at the request of God, and we know God will continue what was started here long before we arrived on the scene. Yes, joy is present in our departure because we feel with John, as he wrote in his first letter, that our joy could not be complete if we had not come to share the wonderful news of God’s great love for all humanity.”
Gordon and Lois settled in Scottsdale, Arizona where they became members of the First Baptist Church of Scottsdale. Gordon taught Sunday school, was the Financial Secretary, and a member of the Advisory Council. He was also treasurer of FBC Foundation. Along with Lois, he was also very involved in the church’s early childhood program for many years, helping to raise the youngest in the congregation. He could often be found down on the floor with the babies and toddlers most Sunday mornings. In 2007, they moved to The Terraces, a retirement community, in Phoenix, Arizona. Gordon continued to be involved in the community and was the treasurer of the Interfaith Committee.
Gordon is survived by his wife of 73 years: Lois, and his children: Sandra, Cynthia, Terry, Gregory (Phyllis); 2 grandchildren, 4 great grandchildren and 1 great, great grandchild.
A Celebration of Life service will be held at the First Baptist Church Scottsdale, 7025 E Osborn Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85251 on Saturday, May 21, 2022 at 10:00am, with a reception following.