January 2022 | Written by Maribeth Griessel
Once upon a time, in a town called Newark, DE, located in the tri-state area of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware, a wee baby girl was born. Though her father used his musical talents in church music ministry, little did Mr. and Mrs. Brown know the extent of the abilities being passed down to their firstborn child. This young lady began violin at 7, singing at 10, self-taught herself guitar as a high school freshman, and has even dabbled in percussion, piano, banjo and ukelele. When little Eleanor Grace was nine years old the family moved to Danville, KY, at the center of the state.
As you have no doubt figured out, this little girl grew to be Eleanor “Ellie” Grace McGinty, who came to Gashland in July 2021, as Worship and Media Director.
Ellie, her younger brothers, Elijah and Isaac, and little sister, Dorie, were home schooled. Elijah is currently working towards his electrician’s license, Dorie is working to become a cosmetologist and Isaac is still in secondary school. Their father, Scott, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor two years ago, at which time he and their mother, Jill, switched roles. Fortunately Scott’s cancer was neither aggressive nor terminal, so he assumed the household duties while Jill became a legal secretary.
After being home schooled, Ellie’s education continued in Lookout Mountain, GA, actually located on the top of a mountain, where she attended the super small Covenant College. “There were 1100 students, max, and it was kind of idyllic, actually,” Ellie described her alma mater. “I had a double major in English and art.”
While at Covenant, she participated in Work Study, working her first year in the library, where she met her now husband, Lake. (More about that later!) Next she worked at the Writing Center, helping other students with their papers by editing and clarifying arguments. During her senior year she was employed in Chatanooga, TN, at the foot of Lookout Mountain, part time at a bed and breakfast and for a print maker, stamping designs on products.
Now, a bit more information about this young man, Lake McGinty. It seems the fair maiden was quite smitten with this lad she had met in the library….QUITE smitten! Unfortunately there was a serious problem, in that he was dating another girl, and was totally unaware of the torch Miss Brown was carrying.
Young Lake had been born in St. Louis, MO, and grew up (along with an older sister and younger brother) as a “missionary kid” in South Africa in Capetown. When it came time for higher education, he moved to….you guessed it! Covenant College, where during his second year he met a young woman working in the library during her freshman year. And oblivious he was! At the end of that year, Lake, a mechanical engineering major, left Lookout Mountain, transferring to Missouri Science and Technology in Rolla. Alas, he lost contact with his (only a) friend, Ellie, for three years. So sad!
Following college graduation, unemployed, Covid in early stages, not wanting to move back to Kentucky, Miss Brown moved in with friends, Steph and Gustavo Formenti, and their children Gabi, Lucas and Jonny, in Chatanooga. The husband was associate pastor at the church she attended and the wife worked at the chapel department of the college. Interesting how God facilitated this friendship. Now the saga really gets exciting!
One night, at a backyard bonfire, Ellie’s hosts were discussing how following their marriage they went to live in South Africa for a year with Mission to the World. Remember how Lake grew up in that part of the world, where his parents served in the mission field? Would you believe the senior McGintys were also associated with Mission to the World? Yeah, definitely a God thing! Ellie’s ears perked up as she eagerly asked, “Did you guys by any chance know a Lake McGinty?” And lo and behold, they said, “Why, yes, we babysat him and his siblings!” (Told you it got interesting!) After a bit of Facebook sleuthing, our fair damsel ascertained where her heartthrob was living, and more importantly that he had broken up with the girlfriend a year and a half earlier.
After a bit of freaking out, and a lot of prayer, unsure whether to reach out to him, hold her peace, or what to do, Ellie wrote probably the most important letter of her young life….”Hey, there, I really liked you in college, don’t know if you knew that. Here are the reasons I never told you…. here are the reasons I’m telling you now. Could we renew our friendship?” After not talking to him for three years, she knew they would both have changed a lot. She closed with, “Please don’t feel you have to respond, I just know I would regret it if I never said anything.” Lake made her wait a MONTH before he answered! But in his defense, there had been a problem with mail having been stopped at his hew residence. Once he received THE LETTER, and prayed about it, he texted that he would be glad to rekindle their friendship and see where it would go. That was summer of 2020, and after talking for acouple of months the dating began (long-distance dating, not easy!)
Interestingly, Lake was working here in Kansas City, while Ellie was still in Chattanooga. Her lease was up and she started making plans to move here. Redeemer Presbyterian, in Overland Park, which helps support the senior McGintys, recommended GEPC to the young dating couple, who at the time knew nothing about a job opening at the church. Lake was looking at the website one day and found information about the search for a worship leader. Excited, he quickly texted Ellie. She submitted her application in February or March, moved to KC in April and both interviewed and got engaged in June! No grass growing under her feet!
Ellie loves to write and hopes to be able to publish something in the future. She and Lake enjoy cooking together and reading. She adds, “I just love all types of art, as well as writing songs, anything creative.” Ellie loves the book of John, sharing that at one point this was the topic for her quiet time. She journalled through the life of Jesus at a time when she really needed to know about His humanity, how He felt and cared deeply. Another Scripture she favors is Psalm 40.
Following their Kansas City engagement, the missionary kid from South Africa and the young lady who grew up in Kentucky, returned to Ellie’s home town in October 2021, where their friend, Pastor Gustavo Formenti performed their wedding ceremony. So now this couple that God brought together once, and then reunited three years later, is married and living happily everafter as members of Gashland EPC!
Follow Ellie & Lake’s creative adventures on Instagram! @themcgintyswrite