This past week a dear long-time member of our church, Carolyn “CJ” Shafer, made her transition. Some of you knew her well, but many may not have known her because she hadn’t been able to attend Sunday services for the past few years due to mobility and other health issues. CJ was the beloved wife of Dan Shafer, who made his own transition five years ago, and who had previously taught classes and given Sunday lessons at UMB, supporting Rev. Vicky and our church in many ways. Over the last few years, as CJ’s health declined, she was looked after by Dan’s four daughters, Sheila, Heather, Mary, and especially Krista, who lived with CJ and handled the majority of her day-to-day care. Not having children of her own, she was very close to Dan’s daughters and I know they are now feeling acutely the loss of the woman who was a second mother to them.
I myself knew CJ from many years of attending church together, but I got to know her better when I entered prayer chaplain training about eleven years ago. CJ served our church as a prayer chaplain for many years. A lifelong spiritual seeker, CJ had a very strong faith and she loved to pray with and for people. She also loved to sing and she frequently sang with the choir at UMB. In fact, over the past several years our amazing Denise Hedlind has been meeting virtually with CJ to play piano and sing with her every week, and I know CJ cherished this special time.
I will remember CJ as being a beautiful, sweet, gentle woman with a touch of playful mischievousness. I will remember how she cherished her family, her husband, and our church. She loved animals and enjoyed when I brought my dog Winnie to visit her at the house and he would jump up on her lap. When I visited her a few weeks ago in hospital, she awakened briefly, recognized me, and gave me one of her beautiful smiles. That smile is how I will remember her.
I didn’t know CJ well enough to be able to give too many more details, but a celebration of life service is being planned for September 17 at UMB, with more details to follow. CJ had quite an extraordinary life and I’m sure there will be sharing about her many adventures at her memorial. In the meantime, please join with me in surrounding the whole Shafer family in your loving prayers for comfort, strength, and faith during this time as they grieve the loss of CJ Shafer. May God bless and guide CJ on her journey into the next realm where I am sure she is singing and smiling and loving even now!