The Lydia Group ministry was founded in 1998 by Methodist lay woman, Ann Starrette, after being inspired by the story of LYDIA in Acts 16 (some scholars say this was written around 70 AD). Sacred history tells us that LYDIA was the first person converted to Christianity on European soil, the first person to have house church to share the Gospel, and the first business woman,a seller of purple, ever recorded.
Little is known as fact about her but we do know she was “a seller of purple.” What does it mean to “sell purple?” In those days dyes were natural, not synthetic, and the dye for purple was made from a juice found in minute quantities in shellfish. It took thousands of crustaceans to make a yard or two of purple cloth. Being very expensive, it was a statement of status and wealth. And that’s what LYDIA is selling. She’s selling purple; purple cloth, purple tapestry, purple robes. She’s selling the power of purple. It was a product that required tenacity, a strong work ethic, excellent craftsmanship, attention to detail, working with vendors, employees, customers.
So here’s LYDIA listening intently to Paul in Acts 16. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. Her household was baptized. She invited Paul and his companions into her home . . . and then others. Imagine her connections. You could say she was Paul’s “social media” of 70 A.D. for spreading the Gospel.
Devotion to St. LYDIA is greater in the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Churches than the Catholic Church and evident in the myriad of icons depicting this woman. The Orthodox Church has given her the title of “Equal to the Apostles,” which signifies her importance and level of holiness. There is a church located in Philippi, which many consider to be built in St. LYDIA’S honor. A modern baptistery is located on the traditional site where LYDIA was baptized by St. Paul near Philippi as well.
LYDIA, no doubt, was a person of hospitality, generosity and influence; a person of contemplative prayer, action and excellence – a fitting model for our contemporary times of someone who earnestly and seamlessly blended their life, work and faith in service to others and glory to God.
OUR LOGO SYMBOL
The grape is said to represent Christ. Grapes and leaves symbolize the Christian faith and our connection to God (John 15:5) and each other. It also symbolizes growth. As a plant that grows in abundance, it was one of the earliest cultivated crops known to mobilized society. The grape & leaves also symbolize spiritual growth and transformation. From the planting of the seed, to the support of the trellis, the tending, pruning, and breaking away as needed until harvest, we witness the transformative steps from the fruit of the vine to a jar of jam to the Cup of Salvation. Through God’s grace, and our cooperation, we pursue wholeness.