Former DC Baptist woman leader dies

A woman active in Baptist life in the nation’s capital has lost her battle with cancer.

By Bob Allen

Vivian Nielsen, 86, a past president of the District of Columbia Baptist Convention and leader in Washington’s Calvary Baptist Church, died Jan. 4 at Greenspring Village retirement community in Springfield, Va., after a battle with cancer.

vivian nielsonIn 1981, Nielsen became the third woman to be elected president of the D.C. convention, affiliated with the American Baptist Churches USA, the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Progressive National Baptist Convention, a triple alignment unique among Baptists in North America.

Her husband for 68 years, Aldon Nielsen, a layman who worked more than 40 years in government service, later was elected to the same post in 1990.

“Vivian was an amazing person and incredible leader in our church,” said Amy Butler, pastor at Calvary Baptist Church. “We are really grieving her loss.”

Butler said Nielsen was special to her, because she chaired the search committee that called Butler as Calvary’s senior pastor in 2003, and continued as “such a good friend” over her remaining years.

“We are celebrating her life in several expressions over the next few days,” Butler said.

On Sunday, Jan. 27, Calvary will remember Nielsen in a special worship service at 11 a.m. followed by a reception for her family. Her memorial service is scheduled at 2 p.m., Monday, Jan. 28, at Greenspring Village in Springfield, Va.

Survivors include her husband, four children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Calvary Baptist Church, 755 8th St. NW, Washington, DC 20001.

Nielsen was a leader in Baptist women's work in Nebraska and Colorado and active in women's conferences at both the American Baptist Assembly in Green Lake, Wis., and Southern Baptist women's conferences at Ridgecrest, N.C. She served on governing boards of both American Baptist and Southern Baptist women’s groups and as president of the Baptist Women's Fellowship of Washington, D.C.