Life of Ellen French Is Celebrated

Dr. Ellen B. French, the first appointed leader of women’s ministries for the Church of God, passed away on July 22, 2017, in Rome, Georgia. She was 98.

Dr. Ellen French

Born in Mountain Home, Idaho, on December 6, 1918, Ellen became a Christian at the age of eight, felt a call to India by the age of 10, and received the baptism of the Holy Spirit at 11. Marrying C.E. French in 1936, they left on their wedding day to build a church in New Mexico. Their mission work took them to 42 states and several countries, including India, Puerto Rico, and Santo Domingo. They also served churches in New Mexico, Missouri, West Virginia, Florida, Illinois, Tennessee, and California, spanning 50 years of pastoral ministry. Her love for the Lord and devotion to the cause of Christ and the Great Commission has always been paramount in her life. Dr. French held a certificate as a Church of God chaplain and was one of the first women to become an ordained minister in the Church of God with ministerial #4444.

In 1964, the Ladies Willing Worker Band was made a national department of the Church of God. The LWWB (Women’s Ministries) had been a service arm of the denomination for 30 or more years, but without a director and governing board. Appointed to the post of executive secretary was Sister French. She was editor of the new women’s publication, Willing Worker, encouraging women of the church to organize. She urged them to “work … as though it [was] the most significant year [they would] ever live.” The Willing Worker. Fall 1967, 1:3. As the first executive secretary of the LWWB, Dr. French laid the foundation for future leadership and set an example of expertise.

While serving with her husband as the first pastors of Westmore Church of God in Cleveland, Tennessee, (then named Keith Street Church of God) in 1967, Ellen French’s name was chosen for the newly-organized “Ellen” Circle, the local LWWB, and she served as its first president.

Ellen French made an impact on academics in the Church of God as well. She taught English at Lee University from 1976-1990, receiving the Excellence in Teaching Award in 1988, the highest faculty award at Lee. From 1988 through her retirement in 1990 she served as department chair. During this time, she established Lee’s Writing Center, which is now a vital element of the department and campus academic life. Dr. French received a diploma from the Church of God Bible Training School (Lee University), a bachelor’s degree from Southern California College, a master’s degree from Butler University and a doctorate from Middle Tennessee State University.

Ellen once said: “The field is the Lord’s, and He moves His servant at His will. I have been involved in various areas of ministry, each of them rich, rewarding, and fulfilling!”

Dr. French leaves behind five sons, 12 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren to cherish her memory. The funeral will take place on Saturday, July 29 at 1:00 p.m. at the North Cleveland Church of God Dixon Chapel.

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