Delayed by the Pandemic, New Mexico Church Hosts Multi-memorial Service

Delayed by the Pandemic, New Mexico Church Hosts Multi-memorial Service

Written on 08/10/2022
DeAndra Valdez

Fellowship Christian Reformed Church in Albuquerque, N.M., hosted a celebration of remembrance Sunday, Aug. 8, to mark the lives of seven congregation members who died since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Because gathering restrictions prevented the church from hosting funeral or memorial services earlier, Pastor John Dykhuis decided to host a communal celebration once the church was able to come together in person again.

“It was important to mark the lives of the people that passed because Fellowship Christian Reformed Church was not able to hold individual member memorial services at the church during the time of death of each member that passed away,” Dykhuis said. The church was also prevented from having in-person worship between March 2020 and June 2021. However, during part of the pandemic, Fellowship CRC was able to host worship services online.

On Aug. 8, the church celebrated the lives of James Skeets (died March 8, 2020, at age 57), Sue Guilford (died April 2, 2020), Win Veltkamp (died May 10, 2020, at age 92) Emerson Skeets (died Aug. 13, 2020, at age 102), Linda Van Klompenberg (died Sept. 21, 2020, at age 84), Hank Nowak (died Oct. 27, 2020), and George Peterson (died March 18, 2021, at age 96). During the memorial service the church displayed photos of each person. Following the service, congregation members shared a lunch, and family members of those who had died shared stories of their loved ones. Sue Gilford’s husband, Dick, said what he’ll always remember about his wife, is that “she was my conscience, better half, and inspiration.”

Sandy, daughter of Win Veltkamp, said her mother was hospitable and enjoyed serving others. “She always had a particular way she would prepare and present food when she would entertain her guests at her house,” Sandy said. “My mother has journal entries dating back to the ’70s” noting occasions of guests’ visits and what she served.

Fellowship CRC is a small congregation of about 50 people. Forty people attended the memorial and lunch. Joyce Schripsema, one of the church members, said she was “happy to see fresh colorful flowers at each table.”