Ken Ford was born June 8, 1954, in Woodstock, Va., to the home of a Seventh-day Adventist minister. Following his father’s assignment in Woodstock and Front Royal, Va., the family received a call to the Pennsylvania Avenue Church in Washington, D.C. This move proved to have a lasting impact on the life of Ken. Although only 11 years old at the time, he caught the attention of a little 9-year-old girl, by the name of Renee France, who attended the local church school with him. By the eighth grade, Ken also began to notice her as well. He began sharing such significant things with her as the prizes out of the Cracker Jack boxes he brought to lunch. What first appeared to be just puppy love, proved to be a lifelong romance.
When Ken was in the ninth grade and Renee was in the seventh, it first became known to their families that they liked each other. Ken attended Shenandoah Valley Academy (SVA), and in his junior year Renee joined him there as a freshman. In 1972 Ken graduated from SVA and enrolled in Andrews University, and once again he and Renee were separated. However, Renee gave him a going away gift of an elephant with a sign on it that said, “Elephants never forget — don’t you forget me!”
Initially Ken enrolled as a psychology major. It was here during these years that he experienced a crisis of faith. This preacher’s kid, who had spent most of his life as a “straight arrow,” began to question not only his relationship with God, but whether God even existed. In fact he reached the point where he had made the decision to abandon any faith that he had, and declare himself an atheist.
However, one day as he was driving in Berrien Springs, Mich., he said, “God if you exist, you need to show me.” At that moment, he was driving past the Michigan Adventist Book Center and he noticed a sign in front saying, “Ellen White books on sale.” On what seemed an impulse (the prompting of the Holy Spirit), he turned the car around to take a look. Before he left, he had bought virtually every book she had ever written. Soon he picked up The Desire of Ages and couldn’t put it down. That book caused him to fall in love with Jesus in a way he had never experienced before. He was converted; his crisis of faith was over. This experience led to a lifelong love and respect for the Spirit of Prophecy, and the realization of its life-changing power. Soon he changed his major from psychology to theology, and prepared to enter the ministry.
On New Year’s Eve of 1975, 10 years after first meeting at the ages of 11 and 9, Ken proposed to Renee, and they were engaged to be married. However, Ken said he couldn’t set a date until he had a job, so they both began to pray for a call. One of the last interviews he had was with the Potomac Conference, and soon they had a call to ministry upon his graduation. Renee had graduated from Southern Missionary College (now Southern Adventist University) with an RN degree.
They were married June 10, 1975, and then they were off to Martinsville and Danville, Va., to pastor. Two years later they returned to Andrews University where Ken obtained his master of divinity degree. Following graduation they moved to Portsmouth, Va., and on August 8, 1983, their first daughter, Jaclyn, was born. Their second daughter, Stephanie, was born February 16, 1987, in Charlottesville, Va.
From Virginia they accepted a call to pastor in Ontario, Canada, for several years before receiving a call to pastor the Summerville, S.C., district in the Carolina Conference. As daughter Stephanie said, “It was from the frigid temperatures of Canada to the scorching heat of the South,” but soon they fell in love with their congregations, as they did with them.
From Summerville their next assignment took them to pastor the Hickory, N.C., Church. It was at this time that Ken was asked to be the associate director of the Carolina Conference Trust Services Department. In 2001, he obtained his doctor of ministry degree from Andrews University.
A few years later, he was asked to become the director of Trust Services for Carolina Conference. During his tenure he assisted hundreds, if not thousands, of people with preparing their trust and will documents.
In 2014 he was asked to assume leadership of the Southern Union Planned Giving and Trust Services Department. He was serving in this role when he passed to his rest on October 2, 2017.
Ken was greatly respected by those who knew him. His belief in and loyalty to Jesus and the Seventh-day Adventist Church, was as solid as bedrock. A fitting epitaph for his life is found in the words of Ellen White, “The greatest want of the world is the want of men — men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall,” Education, page 57.
Ken Ford was this kind of man, whom we look forward to soon seeing again.
Southern Union | February 2018