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By Jeannie Dortch. Photo by Dean Hawthorne.

Ellen Dick and Ford White met in 1979 and were married a short year later. Everyone who knew the couple believed they were a “perfect match.”

calloutEllen had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and though in remission for most of their thirteen year marriage, Ellen and Ford decided against having children. Instead, Ellen began what would define her as a caregiver: She volunteered in FBC’s nursery department on Sunday mornings. Soon Ford found joy in joining her.

A lifelong Christian, “Ellen Dick White was selfless in her commitment to make sure that all the children she taught had an exceptional experience while in her care,” commented Lucy Dorr, Minister of Preschool Education from 1990-1995. “When Ellen died in 1992, those of us who worked with her wanted to remember Ellen in a special way.”

In 1993, FBC embarked on a massive building-wide renovation project that included the construction of a children’s educational wing. What better way to remember Ellen than with a stained glass window dedicated to her memory and representing the fastest growing population in the congregation.

"Jesus and the Children" window

“Jesus and the Children” window

With donations collected from Ellen’s co-workers, Lucy commissioned Shelton Stained Glass in Ashland, Virginia to make “Jesus and the Children.” This newest of FBC’s stained glass windows illustrates a line from a children’s hymn – “Ev’ry color, ev’ry race, all are covered by His grace.” It is located at the entrance of the children’s wing off the first floor corridor and positioned low enough so that children can touch it, per Lucy’s instructions.

Max Cumbia, who worked with Ellen and Ford for eleven years, remembers her as “faithful, loyal, gentle, and soft-spoken. She seemed to have such a heart-to-heart connection with the babies that we just knew that they felt secure and loved in her care. And to see Ford get down on his knees to work with the little ones was magical. Both had a calming influence on each child they embraced.”

Ford and Ellen White

Ford and Ellen White (1990 church directory)

Ellen never knew that her service would be rewarded in such a memorable way. The “Jesus and the Children” window is a tribute to her, Ford, and others who give their time and affection to those whose Christian formation is paramount to the future of FBC and beyond.

Currently, in Sunday school and TLC (extended session) combined, 67 volunteers are needed in the preschool and children’s departments. To give your gift of time and affection, contact Candi Brown, FBC’s Children’s minister. She will help you find a place where another love story may begin.

Author’s note: Copies of the fully illustrated Memorial Windows written by Theodore F. Adams and The Open Door, the church’s history from 1780-2005, are available for checkout or purchase in the church library.

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