Ban­quet named in min­is­ter’s hon­our

Simcoe Reformer - Times-Reformer - - FRONT PAGE - MONTE SONNENBERG

DELHI – Rev. Ch­eryl Fitch is no longer here to help or­ga­nize the an­nual Christ­mas Day ban­quet in Delhi.

How­ever, any­time any­one speaks of the event go­ing for­ward, her name will be on ev­ery­one’s lips.

The con­gre­ga­tion at Delhi United Church wants the com­mu­nity to know there will be a free ban­quet at the church on Christ­mas Day.

And they also want the com­mu­nity to know that it will be re­ferred to from now on as the Ch­eryl Fitch Com­mu­nity Christ­mas Din­ner.

Fitch, 59, fell ill last fall. She was di­ag­nosed with esophageal cancer Dec. 12. She was soon on oxy­gen and - by Jan. 4 – she was gone.

Fitch’s demise co­in­cided with a pe­riod of in­tense prepa­ra­tion for last year’s ban­quet, which Fitch ini­ti­ated some 13 years ear­lier.

There was some doubt as to whether there would even be a ban­quet last year, but parish­ioners and com­mu­nity vol­un­teers agreed to press for­ward in hon­our of her ef­fort.

“We’re all still strug­gling with her pass­ing,” Ma­ri­ette Ste­fek, chair of the Delhi United Church board, said Sun­day. “Ev­ery­one is mourn­ing the loss of the min­is­ter. But some of us are also mourn­ing the loss of a very good friend.

“We’re mov­ing ahead be­cause we know Ch­eryl would want us to.”

It’s im­por­tant to get the word out so that tra­di­tional vol­un­teers, po­ten­tial at­ten­dees and donors have am­ple no­tice of what’s to come.

Rev. De­bra Hinks­man was re­cently ap­pointed as the new min­is­ter at Delhi United. She is look­ing for­ward to par­tic­i­pat­ing in her first com­mu­nity Christ­mas ban­quet in Delhi.

“It was clear from the be­gin­ning that this church was com­mit­ted to mak­ing cer­tain this won­der­ful event would con­tinue,” Hinks­man said last week in a state­ment.

“As much as we still deeply grieve Ch­eryl’s pass­ing, the con­gre­ga­tion of Delhi United is happy that we con­tinue this beloved gath­er­ing and keep her com­mit­ment to com­mu­nity alive.”

The ban­quets at­tract up­ward of 100 peo­ple.

Fitch es­tab­lished the event on the prin­ci­ple that ev­ery­one should have some­where to go Christ­mas Day to en­joy a good meal and good fel­low­ship. No one, Fitch be­lieved, should have to sit home alone on Christ­mas Day if they don’t want to.

Fitch was strong enough to at­tend Delhi United’s an­nual Christ­mas ser­vice in the weeks be­fore her pass­ing. She did not de­liver the ser­mon but did ad­min­is­ter com­mu­nion. Many con­gre­gants didn’t know her con­di­tion was ter­mi­nal un­til she was gone.

“I don’t know why it hap­pened,” wid­ower Andy Fitch, of Delhi, said Sun­day. “I can’t ex­plain it. She didn’t want to ruin any­one’s Christ­mas.”

As con­fir­ma­tion that the tra­di­tion lives on, be ad­vised that any­one in Delhi and sur­round­ing area who would en­joy a tur­key din­ner with all the trim­mings on Christ­mas should be in the ban­quet hall at Delhi United at noon Dec. 25. Don’t be late be­cause they will start with­out you.

MONTE SONNENBERG / SIM­COE RE­FORMER

Con­gre­gants at Delhi United Church are lay­ing the ground­work for the in­au­gu­ral Ch­eryl Fitch Com­mu­nity Christ­mas Din­ner Dec. 25. Mem­bers of the or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee in­clude, from left, Ruth Brown of Delhi, Andy Fitch of Delhi, and Ma­ri­ette Ste­fek, chair of the Delhi United Church board of directors.

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