March 4, 2020

Building a miniature house ministry

Carol Beal, a former missionary to Rwanda and long-time Berrien Springs resident, has embarked upon a unique means of using her artistic skills to inspire others and further God’s cause. She has manifested her proficiency in arts and crafts in different ways for much of her life.

Around the turn of the millennium, Carol directed her attention to the design and construction of scale-model dollhouses. More recently, her hobby evolved into ministry as she carried her efforts to the development of replicas of architectural structures pertinent to Seventh-day Adventist history.

As Carol welcomed me into her home, she introduced me to her current project — Joseph Bates’ house in Fairhaven, Massachusetts — which is progressing nicely. Merlin Burt, director of the Center for Adventist Research, requested this particular piece. Bates introduced the early Adventists to the biblical veracity of the seventh-day Sabbath. The room closest to completion in Carol’s model is the parlor, which is quite exquisite and indicates the family’s affluence stemming from Joseph’s father’s involvement in politics. She showed me the source book from which she retrieved photographical and written perspectives that shaped her vision. 

Carol’s first project was James and Ellen White’s house in Battle Creek. An amusing example of her meticulous attention to historical context was the little mouse she planted in the corner of the meal room, reflecting how advanced pest control is now, compared to the 1800s. Overall, she wants to highlight authenticity — the reality of the more primitive environment, the humanness of our forerunners, including Ellen and others.



The house has been on display at the Ellen G. White Visitor Center at the General Conference Headquarters since 2015, soon after its initial, mass-public presentation at the GC Session in San Antonio. As much organic gusto as Carol has for this work, what has buoyed her even further are the reports she receives of the admiring feedback voiced by scores of patrons of the Center. According to staff, the volume of this feedback has been equitable to that of the “Christ of the Narrow Way” mural (depicting the prophet’s first vision).

Carol’s other main project was the Washington (New Hampshire) Church, considered the first local church in denominational history. She credits Burt, the late Stan Hickerson, her former pastor in Stevensville, Michigan, and several others for assisting her in this endeavor. So far, her Stevensville Church family have been privileged with the first sneak peek at her finished products before the broader unveilings.

Besides the motivation to dig deeper into our church’s history that these projects have provided, Carol’s benchmark of fulfillment, in many ways, has been sharing this work with her husband, Orville. Her creative flair has combined with his expertise in carpentry in an impressive, synergistic manner. Since 2016, Orville has shared a particular commonality with our pioneers, as well as Pastor Stan: sleeping in peaceful anticipation of that glorious resurrection morning. Carol plans to invest as much time and energy as she can spare to continue this work, thus, with fresh, tangible vigor, pointing our attention, as well as her own, to the great advent hope.



Video by Michelle Greene.