Ella's Light is a newly formed organization that helps rural churches start and maintain children's ministries. It is named in honor of Ella Formby, a youngster from Summit who was killed in a car wreck earlier this year.
I talked with Ella's parents at the children's museum in Jackson to get the story of Ella's light.
Ella Formby was a gift from the beginning. Sparkling eyes, a delightful personality, and a special child for her parents who were beginning to think they may not have children.
"I was 39 when she was born," said Julie Formby, Ella's mother.
There was a full moon the night of January 25th of this year. The Formbys were driving home in their antique car, Ella in her car seat looking out the rear window.
"All she remembered was Ella sitting in the back saying the moon was following her. You know, ‘the moon's following us home.' I said ‘yes baby. The moon's gonna dance through the trees all the way home," said Lourie Formby, Ella's father.
'Bout that time, the Formbys were rear-ended by a speeding car and Ella didn't survive the accident. And then shortly there after Ella's Light Ministry was born, when temple Baptist Church of Hattiesburg offered to start a fund to help pay the Formbys medical expenses. But Ella's dad had another idea.
Our medical bills are covered. We have insurance. But if you'd start a children's ministry that would be great." said Lourie.
A children's ministry in Ella's memory wasn't that far-fetched. Ella loved going to church, even on days when mom and dad would rather have slept in.
"And she would just say, ‘oh no. Mommy, I have to go to Sunday school," said Julie
So now funds are being raised through Ella's Light to help small churches implement children's ministries that can do the kinds of things that meant so much to Ella starting with a fun Saturday and leading on to more lasting things.
"Children's activities like vacation bible school, bible camps, whatever activities that would interest the children in that community and draw those children in," said Julie
Nothing will ever take the place of little Ella for the Formbys. But with Ella's light ministry, her youthful exuberance and love for life will be the springboard for many more youngsters to sample what she considered so important, and will Make A Difference for lots of families in the process.