The first memorial service was held August 8, 1926 under the direction of Mattie Parry Evans. The service was full of old familiar hymns, scripture readings, and prayers, followed by a sermon from Dr. Albert Evans.
The windows and altar were covered in white muslin and the service became known as the White Service.
The choir, dressed in white robes with large black bows, sat on the platform behind the altar.
Front: Mae Jones Fuller, Imogene Fuller, Laura Jones, Pastor Irvine, John R. Williams, organist Esther Anwyl Leonard, Kate Jones Williams, Helen Irvine Back: Lewis Jones, Mattie Parry Evans, Dr. Albert Evans.
Mary Williams Beatty, Edith Densmore, Ruth Hughes, Imogene Fuller, Lewis Jones, Lynda Williams Tucker, Rev. R. J. Williams, John R. Williams, organist Esther Anwyl Leonard, Maude A. Williams, Mae Jones Fuller, Kate Jones Williams. circa 1951
The years passed and each summer a memorial service was held. It was eventually decided to hold the White Service the first Sunday in June each year.
Through the years the sermons have been delivered by Dr. Evans (1926-1945), Dr. Stephen Palmer, Rev. Henry Mosley, Rev. B. J. Davies, Rev. R. J. Williams (1951-1956, 1959), Rev. Glen Sherman, Rev. Robert Olson, Dr. Stephen Palmer (1961-1985), and Russ Hurlburt (1986-2012).
A plaque acknowledging 27 years of dedicated service was presented to Russell Hurlburt by Lynda Williams Tucker, during the 2013 White Service.
In 2013, Dr. Beth Hensley, daughter of Russell Hurlburt, began conducting the White Service. Due to the death of her mother Jane, the 2015 service was conducted by Roger Vullo.
Early programs do not list the organist by name although most of them served for many years. Those organists were Esther Anwyl Leonard, Orrel Howlett, Ethel Gibbon, Lois Hurlburt, Elizabeth Veasey and Donna Warner.
The organ was refitted with new bellows as a tribute to Esther Anwyl Leonard, and hymn books were donated by Esther's family in her memory.
The program, speaker and music were arranged by Kate Williams after Mattie Evans' death. She was joined by her daughter-in-law Maude A. Williams in 1940.
Maude continued planning the programs until her death in 2004, ending 65 years of faithful service.
The program is now arranged by Lynda Williams Tucker.
Soloists in voice and instruments throughout the years have brought a special touch to the services.
Imogene Fuller, J. Gwilym Anwyl, Ruth Hughes, Rev. R. J. Williams, Carroll Hughes, Nancy Davies Morgan, Joan Wilber Boutwell, Diane Hurlburt, Lynda Williams Tucker, Lisa Green, Carol & Suzanne Morgan, Drs. Eric & Bronwen Loeb, Lois & Russ Hurlburt, Dick Hughes, Debbie Hughes Welch, Marlene Vullo Martinez and Roger Vullo, among others, have all given of their talents through the years.
In 1998, the service returned to its Welsh beginnings with the singing of a hymn in Welsh.
Dr. Beth Hensley and Ms Marti Hurlburt introduced the song "I Need Thee Every Hour" with phonetic pronunciation of the Welsh words.
This "Welsh Songfest" now includes several hymns each year. In 2015, soloist Marlene Vullo Martinez sang "Mae D'Eisiau Di Bob Awr" in Welsh.
Since 1933, every service has included the song "The Church in the Wildwood".
The line 'the little brown church in the vale' is sung 'the little white church in the vale' in keeping with the White Service and the Little White Salem Welsh Church.
Offerings are collected to offset the cost of the service and the upkeep of the cemetery and church.
Several have served as ushers. Charles N. Jones served for many years even though he lived out of the area. Currently serving as ushers are Paul Kowalski and Russell Tucker.
The congregation's generous contributions and memorial gifts have enabled the White Service to continue.
Scenes from the White Service
Program covers alternate between the church profile and a poem written about the church.
The emblem for the State Register of Historic Places is also featured on the program cover.
Following each service, a pot-luck luncheon is held. For many years, the luncheon was held in the Sandusky Methodist Hall.
Ivah Jones and her family organized the luncheon. The large hall was set up with long tables and dishes brought for the pot-luck were kept heated or chilled until the meal began.
Although everyone brought their own table service, much work was involved. By 1978, Mrs. Jones retired and her daughter-in-law Mary Jones became the hostess.
Cindy Jones Goodman, Helen Morgan, Ruth Morgan, Connie Kaack and Carol Bruyere have also served as hostesses. The luncheon has been held at the Rod & Gun Club and the Calvary Alliance Church in the past.
This year the luncheon was held at the First Baptist Church in Arcade with hosts George and Martha Pryor and Debbie Welch and daughters.
With guests coming great distances for the service, this time of fellowship renews friendships and reunites families.
A short business meeting follows the luncheon.