This year’s Rev. Linn and Betty Self Symposium focuses on Spiritual Healing for the Bereaved. We are excited to have Ella Wall Prichard, author of Reclaiming Joy: A Primer for Widows, as one of our keynote speakers.

“I wouldn’t say writing is my calling,” says Ella Prichard. “I have been putting words on paper ever since I could hold a pencil. I’ve always written. But never fiction and never about myself. I’m a journalist and historian. I also don’t regard myself as a ‘public speaker,’ but I’ve never been uncomfortable speaking, especially when it’s something I feel passionately about.”

While she may not consider writing and speaking her calling, there is no doubt God is using Ella Prichard’s talents in both areas. She started writing at an early age and majored in history and minored in journalism at Baylor. She even met her husband while doing a stint as a summer reporting intern at the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. She has written Sunday School curriculum for LifeWay, she has written pieces for nonprofits, and as a member of First Baptist Church – Corpus Christi, she has held leadership positions in the Baptist General Convention of Texas and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. She also sat on the Baylor Board of Regents and acted as a director of the Baylor Alumni.

Ella is a writer through and through, so when her husband passed away after a long illness in 2009, she took to sharing her experience with grief on Twitter and Facebook. The response to her posts was overwhelming, and she found a community of people asking her to continue writing. Inspired by Paul’s letter to the Philippians, she wrote a book on her process from grief to joy. Taking what she learned from writing this book, Ella will host two sessions at the Self Bible Symposium.

“In the morning presentation, I will share the grief that the death of a spouse causes and my own journey toward reclaiming joy. This will include the ways in which Scripture, especially Philippians, spoke to me,” Ella tells us. “In the second session, I will deal with practical application. I’d like those in ministry to see widows (and widowers and divorced) as a mission, not just a ministry. I will suggest ways that ministers individually and the church as a body can be more effective in their ministry and pastoral care to those who are grieving a loss.”

To learn more about Ella Prichard and to follow her blog, please visit