Sister Emily Nzeribe, deaconess of First Bryan Baptist, was asked to spearhead the memorial window at First Bryan Baptist Church honoring Pastor Edward L. Ellis, Jr. Rev. Ellis was the longest-serving Pastor in the history of First Bryan Baptist Church. He served for 27 years. “I knew that was something I would love to do”, said Sis. Nzeribe. “It became realistic that it would not be an easy task after being disappointed by the initial artist,” she continued. “And along came John”.
Jon Erickson of Aurora-Stained Glass Studio was right under her nose. A SCAD graduate (1998), and native of Rhode Island, John had decided to make Savannah his home. He was very accommodating. “There was no doubt that he could create what was asked of him,” said Sis. Nzeribe. He was given a short period of time to complete the project. John managed to complete the project on schedule and in time for the 233rd Church Anniversary celebration. “John was a pleasure to work with and is now a part of the history of First Bryan Baptist Church”, said Sis. Nzeribe.
Rev. Edward Lamar Ellis, Jr. was a native of Monroe, Georgia. He received his early education from the public school system of Monroe, Georgia. Rev. Ellis served his country by joining the United States Army. He served from 1948 to 1952 during the Korean War.
He matriculated at Fort Valley State College (now University) where he received his B.S. degree and graduated with honors in 1956. In addition to being an honor graduate, Rev. Ellis was the first student to receive the highest awards given to a graduating senior, “The H. A. Hunt Award” in honor of the school’s founder and the “Best All-Around Student Award.” Rev. Ellis also served as President of the student body. Before becoming ill with polio in 1954, he was a member of the football, basketball and track teams.
During his matriculation at Fort Valley State College (now University), Rev. Ellis was initiated into the Alpha Pi Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. He also was affiliated with Tau Beta Sigma Chapter in Savannah, GA.
In 1967, Rev. Ellis received his Master’s of Education and in 1972, the Specialist in Education degree from The University of Georgia. He has studied additionally at the Interdenominational Theological Center, Atlanta University and Virginia Union University School of Theology. Rev. Ellis has also received specialized training in Management, Conflict Resolution and Counseling.
Prior to moving to Savannah in 1985, Rev. Ellis had a very diverse career. He worked as a teacher, school social worker, administrator, Diversion Center Superintendent, and as a Chief Probation Officer all in the State of Georgia. He received numerous honors and awards throughout his career which included Probation-Parole Officer of the Year and Superintendent of the Year for the State of Georgia.
Rev. Ellis Pastoral Ministry included: First African Baptist Church, Monroe, GA 1965 – 1968, Thankful Baptist Church, Athens, GA 1970-1984. Historic First Bryan Baptist Church, Savannah, GA 1985 – 2012.
Rev. Ellis transitioned on June 4, 2020. He leaves to mourn his passing: His Beloved and Devoted Wife of 57 years, Lillian Willams Ellis. Children: Sharon (Eddie) Bussey, Joia (Richard) Dinkins and Rev. Edward (Gena) Ellis, Ill., grandchildren, other relatives and friends.