Wife of Late Pastor Dingwall Displays Faith, Christmas Spirit - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Wife of Late Pastor Dingwall Displays Faith, Christmas Spirit

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The late Rev. David Dingwall pictured beside his wife Brenda, and son Ian. The late Rev. David Dingwall pictured beside his wife Brenda, and son Ian.

OCEAN CITY, Md. - Two days before Thanksgiving of this year a church fire claimed the lives of two men, and severely injured a woman in Ocean City. One of those that died was the Rev. David Dingwall, who was the pastor of St. Paul's by-the-Sea Episcopal Church.

Dingwall is survived by his wife Brenda, and their three sons. WBOC's Paul Butler recently spoke with Brenda Dingwall about what her family is going through, what she thinks of the man who started the fire, and how she still holds on to the spirit of Christmas.

Butler recently went back to the scene of the fire with Mrs. Dingwall. "It hurts," she said looking at the burned out structure. "You know looking at this, it's really really sad."

The Nov. 26 fire killed her husband and severely damaged several church buildings. It also destroyed  a food pantry known as Shepherds Crook, and a third part of the St. Paul's ministry known as Red Doors.

The fire started when police say John Sterner lit himself on fire, and ran into Shepherds Crook. Sterner died, along with the Rev. Dingwall. A woman, Dana Truitt, who was volunteering at the food pantry was severely burned.

Mrs. Dingwall said there is not a minute that goes by that she and her sons don't miss David, whom she called a devoted husband and father.

And now at Christmas, she is trying her best to be strong for her three sons. The oldest Nick, middle son Alex, and youngest boy Ian,who at just 13 years old,  not only lost a dad but also his best friend.

Brenda, who is a scientist at Wallops Island, said her youngest son Ian, "knows that when his dad died he was trying to help people, not that that erases the loss. But he says I know that dad would want me to move forward, but we can still celebrate who he was and to celebrate who he asked us to be. And that is what we do." 

Despite losing her husband in the fire, Mrs. Dingwall holds no anger toward Mr. Sterner. "The way I see john sterner is that he was a man in great pain. And you have to be in a whole lot of pain to set yourself on fire . That's not an easy way to go. And so how can I be angry at somebody who was in that much pain", she told us. 

She admits the family is feeling a great sense of loss. But she's also displaying the Christmas spirit, and says it stems from a sermon her husband gave a year ago, right after the deadly mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school.

Dingwall quoted his speech. "That Christmas has never been more necessary. Christmas is about light coming into the world. He said it beautifully. It's about celebrating that light , and we can't let go of that light." Nobody would blame Brenda Dingwall for feeling angry or sorry for herself after a tragedy that she says could have been avoided. She reminded us that Christmas isn't about the gifts and presents; it's something so much greater.

"I would invite everybody to chose love and that is often the hardest thing in the world to do. But that is why we are here," said Dingwall.

And that too is what Christmas is all about.

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