National Magazine of the Lutheran Church of Australia

Sharing the chance to say goodbye

April 2020

by Tania Nelson

The words of the hymn ‘I’ll go where you want me to go … ’ were dear to the late Pastor Paul Albers (pictured). They were played in a photo presentation at his funeral in March in suburban Adelaide.

His son-in-law, Pastor Avito da Costa, shared, ‘Dad Albers had organised everything about his funeral, down to the hymns that would be sung, the Bible readings to be read and even that Norm (now in his 90s) would play the music. The funeral was prepaid and he would be committed next to his beloved wife Erna, who died in 2008. There was even a note that said, “I haven’t paid for the refreshments yet”.’

The funeral, however, did not proceed as originally planned, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘It was very distressing’, said Paul’s daughter, Anna da Costa. ‘First, we heard the announcement about social distancing and thought we could manage that. Then Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that funerals would be held with no more than 10 attendees. Interstate relatives and friends had to cancel flights and accommodation.

‘Sadly, two of my siblings were unable to attend the funeral. One was in lockdown at Hope Valley Lutheran Homes and the other unable to fly in because of border closures.’

How do you manage a limit with so many wanting to pay their respects? How can family and friends say goodbye to their father, grandfather, pastor and friend? Emails and phone calls were hurriedly sent and made and, thanks to Concordia Lutheran Church, Loxton – the da Costa’s home town in South Australia, where Pastor Paul also attended in the 1990s – an In Memoriam page was added to their website including the obituary, the service order and Pastor Chris Gallasch’s sermon for anyone to read.

Dr Tania Nelson is the LCA/NZ’s Executive Officer – Local Mission, which includes Ministry with the Ageing.