Rev. Al Fontenot (left) and his wife, Usher Dorothy Fontenot (Courtesy photo)
Rev. Al Fontenot (left) and his wife, Usher Dorothy Fontenot (Courtesy photo)

When Dorothy Fontenot wanted to become an usher at the First Baptist Church of Highland Park, she enrolled in a school that taught her about a critical job in many churches. Even though Fontenot, now 76, served as an usher growing up in Chicago, the retired school nurse and minister’s wife was excited for a deeper understanding of the importance of her work.

“We encourage our ushers to go to school,” she said.

The Rev. Henry P. Davis, pastor of First Baptist of Highland Park, said ushers are key to church operations.

“Most of our ushers are on the case, and they serve during all three services every weekend,” he said. “During the pandemic, our ushers were vital and did not miss a beat.”

Fontenot noted ushers are the first to interact with parishioners and guests when they enter into worship space. “When people walk through the doors, and we smile, it makes a difference. The ushers set the tone for the church.”

She and her minister husband, the Rev. Albert Fontenot Jr., who also works for the Census Bureau, now serve together. The two were childhood friends, but after losing their spouses, got reacquainted at a church play, which sparked a relationship. They have now been married for 17 years. The couple works together as part of the church divorce care and grief ministries.

“We try to help people deal with loss by giving suggestions, and this is one of the important aspects of the church,” Fontenot, who also coordinates the Junior and Young Adult Usher Ministry, said. “It shows that God can make a way out of no way.”

Though he has many ministerial duties, sometimes Fontenot is able to even convince her husband to join in on usher duties, who explained that serving others keeps his wife going.

“Her focus and her love language is service,” he said. “She is a certified Christian counselor, and I am too. This is our ministry. Ministry is about reaching and helping people in every moment of their lives.”

Hamil R. Harris

Hamil Harris is an award-winning journalist who worked at the Washington Post from 1992 to 2016. During his tenure he wrote hundreds of stories about the people, government and faith communities in the...

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