Gail MacGregor Good afternoon! On behalf of the family I would like to extend a warm welcome to all who have gathered here to celebrate the life of Nelson Weippert, one of the true treasures of the Chateauguay Valley. Only Nelson could fill this church to overflowing!! I would like to thank the session of Rockburn Presbyterian church for welcoming us here today…..and also a huge thanks to all who are helping with this service….Nelson was a part of this congregation in recent years as well as being a member of the Chenaniah band over here to my left…..this is a very emotional time for them also. I was honored and humbled, indeed shocked, to have been asked to lead this service today……Nelson and Sharon were blessed to have the opportunity to make plans before his passing and he chose much of the service and those who will be taking part…..
I am truly honored to be involved in this celebration of the life of an extraordinary and well-loved friend to all.
Following this service everyone is invited to head across the road to the Rockburn Hall for light refreshments and a time of fellowship. I am sure that many stories will be recounted, memories of Nelson will be shared amid laughter and tears….and new memories and friendships will be formed. Please make your way over there and the family will join in as soon as they are able.
I will now invite Peter, Gerald, Bill, Charley, Betty and Stewart to come forward, or down, as the case may be. I performed a candle lighting ceremony for my Dad and then a second time at a funeral service which Nelson and Sharon attended…..this touched them deeply and I am honored that they requested this for today.
Stewart Burrows will light the first candle, representing Nelson’s ministry in the valley.
Nelson touched the lives of many by his services, no matter the denomination, Nelson’s ministry covered the valley.
Nelson gave thought provoking talks and sermons
Pastoral care was important to him…..he took time to teach, time to celebrate and perhaps greatest of all he took the time to listen.
Nelson was a shepherd, spreading love, he cared for all.
Nelson lived by the maxim that it is fine to pray but one must get up and do….he believed that anyone and everyone can serve…..he practiced what he preached!
Gerald Beaudoin will light the second candle, representing the music that Nelson so loved to share
Nelson took his gift of music to seniors home and shut-ins
He was a member of the Cheneniah band here as well as the Rockburn Carollers
His love of music brought joy to others, he encouraged children and adults as well to sing along with him
Nelson hosted hymn sings, in coordination with the Franklin Ensemble around the valley.
His big voice and happy personality touched many, his joie de vivre was contagious
Bill Martin will light the third candle, representing the small but close knit hamlet of Dewittville.
Nelson always had time to stop and chat with neighbours as he rode his bike or walked his dog through town
Nelson took an interest in the lives of his neighbours and always kept up to date on their children’s lives as well
Many a stray cat found its way into Nelson’s house…others had happy contented lives in his barn where Nelson made sure they were well fed.
Nelson took part in the annual Godmanchester versus Hinchinbrooke bocce tournament….he was awarded a degree from Bocce University and one year won the coveted trophy which was displayed in a not-very-prominent location in his house!
Nelson was not just a neighbour, he was a great neighbour.
Charley Harvey will light the fourth candle, representing the volunteering that Nelson did in the valley
Nelson organized the weekly music schedule for 22 years for centre d’acceuil in Ormstown as well as performing there himself.
He drove for meals on wheels, helped out at church fundraisers, served on committees and boards.
Nelson loved his family and his community….he gave tirelessly of himself.
His ministry, his music, his promotion of farming, Canadian Foodgrains, his care of neighbours….are all signs of Nelson’s faith in action
Nelson always gave more than he asked for….left gifts that money cannot buy….inspiration, humility, confidence, comfort….he made the world a better place…..from the goodness of his heart., he showed us the way.
Peter Doyle will light the fifth candle, representing the farming community of which Nelson was a proud member
Nelson and family ran one of the largest sheep herds in Quebec with 400 ewes
Nelson was one of the first farms to go organic
Nelson was an active member of the UPA as well as the QFA
Nelson always made time to encourage and educate others about raising sheep and to that end he taught a course at adult ed.
Even while continuing to work in Montreal he was living his dream of farming….he was proud to be a farmer. And he was a good farmer!!!
Betty Waller will light the sixth candle, representing Nelson’s work with the Canadian Food Grains Bank
Nelson started the project in the valley…..a farming community response to world hunger
Convinced many farmers and others to pitch in and help
Nelson found innovative and creative projects to raise awareness and funds
One Olympic year Nelson got every church in the Valley to raise funds….for every one hundred dollars raised we stuffed token feedbags…..at the end of an incredible campaign medals were awarded to the churches with the most bags of feed! The response was amazing….an Olympian effort!
Nelson gave back to the community and the world in support of those less fortunate.
May these candles serve as a visual reminder of Christ’s presence in our midst….a visual reminder of Nelson’s contributions to our community and our world….a visual reminder of Nelson’s presence with us this day and always. Nelson was a very special person…….Nelson will live on in our memories and in the hearts of all who were blessed to have known him. Amen.
Nelson was a part of church life since moving to the Valley way back in 1973….joining Huntingdon United that same year. Nelson was the Sunday School Superintendent for many years there and also taught classes. Those were the days when there might be four or five age groups and as many as twenty or thirty kids in a group!! Nelson served over the years on many committees, he was a member of the choir, played his guitar, was Presbytery rep, did pastoral care, was ministry and personnel rep, Nelson often helped out with vacation bible school ………he was a very dedicated and active member of the congregation with Sharon and the kids beside him much of the time.
Nelson started doing a bit of preaching, taking an occasional service when a minister was away or between ministers and this led to a desire for further training. Nelson took the Lay Preachers Training Course from 2004 to 2006 in Sherbrooke, Quebec. He received his certificate in Theology for Daily Living from The United Theological College in Montreal. Even during this busy time with every second weekend away, not to mention countless hours at the computer and many more studying, Nelson continued his volunteering in our community.
Nelson at Rockburn Presbyterian Church April 10th, 2015
Nelson was in high demand as a lay preacher….over the past 15 years there are not many churches in the Valley where Nelson did not serve or preach. Nelson loved to talk about the Canadian Foodgrains bank, and he would jump at the chance to take a service to promote a churches’ project for Foodgrains.
As his reputation spread more and more churches were calling on a regular basis. You might have heard the Mother’s Day sermon about Uncle Jack’s sweater that his mother-in law knit…..he was renowned for his wonderful sense of humour, and his interesting and thought provoking sermons. Members of Dundee Zion recounted his amazing children’s stories and how he got the kids involved and inspired, how he formed a rhythm band with them, also how he often would spontaneously sing a solo during the service. The love in their eyes and voices when they spoke of Nelson was obvious. At Huntingdon United the stories and emotions are similar.......he was a vibrant personality who brought joy and smiles to the congregation, he inspired and uplifted through his words. Nelson became a mentor to young Eric Page when Eric joined the confirmation class. Nelson was an incredible guide and influence in this young man’s spiritual journey. As he walked with Eric through the process of confirmation Eric was able to see, understand and eventually confirm his own calling to ministry. Eric is forever grateful for Nelson’s presence in his life……Eric was ordained just this past year as a minister of the United church of Canada…..to this day he has a photo sitting on his desk……of himself with his mentor and friend Nelson.
Eric Pagé Rockburn Presbyterian October 19th 2014
A few years ago as Harley Bye was preparing to retire, he invited Nelson to come to Rockburn to help out with the services. Nelson preached about once a month at the beginning, Harley then invited him to join the band and the rest is history…..Nelson had found his new church home! He always seemed so comfortable in the pulpit and made everyone feel that he was talking just to them. He managed to deliver a thought provoking message without imposing or forcing it……he made everyone relaxed. He was well loved in the congregation, whether in the pulpit or with the band playing his guitar and singing with his wonderful voice. Following his own retirement just over two years ago he continued to worship in Rockburn, sharing his musical talents, mentoring newcomers to the pulpit, visiting, welcoming friend and stranger alike, and on occasion he could even still be convinced to do a children’s story!
In April 2017, Rockburn held a special service to thank Nelson for all his contributions to Valley life…they gave him a framed plaque saying Great is Thy Faithfulness. https://www.rockburnpresbyterian.org/services-recap/archives/04-2017 It would be impossible to find more appropriate words……this plaque found a home in a very prominent place in Nelson and Sharon’s home.
Nelson performed many funerals, some in church settings, others more innovative……one in a backyard with a much loved canoe as the altar for the urn, another in a local coffee house. He also presided over the scattering of the ashes of the deceased in her much loved garden. Sharon and Nelson even held memorial services in their own home when nothing else was available. Nelson met with families and worked hard to make the service personal and meaningful, whether he knew the deceased or not. He performed graveside services and chapel services and provided comfort to hundreds of mourners. He had calm, perceptive views of life and death, he somehow found the right words to sum up any situation and those words comforted many, in unimaginable times of sorrow.
Even though Nelson successfully completed the lay leadership course and earned his certificate, there are some things which cannot be taught in a classroom. You cannot teach compassion, rapport with children, integrity, a sense of humour, a burning desire to serve, love or passion. Nelson had all of these….and so much more….these were the very essence of who Nelson was…….ministry was his calling. We are forever grateful. Amen. Please join now in singing our first hymn: Spirit of Gentleness.
Photo : Karen Dowker
Gordon Furey a member of the Rockburn Church band will now sing
One day I went to church when I wasn’t going to, and I heard a man with a message, and I saw him loud and clear. You see, it wasn’t the content or the way he said it, it wasn’t the scripture though he knew it well.
It was the man himself, he spoke like a friend and I saw in his eyes - I see them clear - I saw a small twinkle like a jolly Kris Kringle and I knew that this coming to church to just hear him was the event of my day, this one holy Sunday.
Now, this man made me feel like I’d known him forever, and yet I’d just seen him a time or two before. And this day when he spoke he spoke of a whole people who suffered together beset by the strong. I turned to my wife, ”Do you remember his name?” “Who?”
“Who? Why him. The one with the beard like the Baptist. The one up there in the pulpit, speaking of injustice. Speaking in a way I picture Christ himself might speak, kindly, and softly, not like a preacher, but drawing a picture, more like a neighbour speaking of crops, telling a story of a great man in Africa, one called Mandela, who suffered in jail a very long time.”
“No,” she replied, “I don’t remember his name.”
But then he kept talking, and he spoke of his subject again, this Mandela who suffered more than any ten men should, but survived, and forgave, and showed the world the profile of a real Christian, one who perseveres like Job and loves like Christ…and then…and then I remembered. The man he referred to with whom he shared a name.
And the name, it was Nelson. And I sighed. I was finally satisfied.
Joe Hevesy, Apr.2, 2017
Our next hymn is In the Bulb There is a Flower
Nelson’s favorite scripture was Ecclesiastes…reading chapter 3, verses 1, 2a and four………For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die…..a time to weep and a time to laugh….a time to mourn and a time to dance. And from First Thessalonians chapter 3 verse 9 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you?
Shall we pray…… Loving God, you call and we answer; you direct and we go; you bless and we praise; you gather us and we worship you. All goodness in this world finds its origin in you; all right uses of power find legitimacy in you; all peace finds its source in you; all life finds its fulfillment in you. Gracious God, we have gathered together as friends and family of Nelson….. we thank you for your grace and goodness, for Nelson’s life and how it was spent. We pray that we might all aspire to live life as richly as he did. His golden heart stopped beating, two willing hands are still……the one who toiled so hard for us, is resting at God’s will. We pray that this day and each day to come you fill us with faith and give us the courage to move forward into a different world without Nelson. We thank you for those gifts of mind, heart and spirit which were uniquely his life. We pray that we may have the strength, the dedication and the perseverance required to continue the good works and traditions so dear to Nelson’s heart. With grateful hearts, we bow in awe and wonder and we praise you as our God who created and is creating, the Christ who first loved us and loves us still, and the Holy Spirit who guides us day by day. Almighty God, Three in One, all praise and glory are yours, now and always. Amen.
Two more members of the Rockburn band will now sing…..Norm and Rob
Following the benediction and the choral amen please allow the family to exit first….they will form a receiving line outside the church…..please proceed from there to the hall for refreshments and the family will join in later.
Our final hymn today is Lord of the Dance….please remain standing following this hymn.
This is Nelson’s benediction
May the love of God our father, The comfort of God our mother, And the joy of Jesus our brother Be with us as we leave this place today. Amen
Choir: If that isn’t love
Nelson at the celebration of life of Harley Bye, January 23rd, 2016