Parishioners at All Nations Christian Reformed Church in Halifax, Nova Scotia, were surprised on May 8 to find flowers, a bucket, cleaning gloves, and a hat at the foot of the sanctuary cross.
They also received the news that John Winters, their beloved custodian and organist of many years, had passed away between doing the two tasks he loved most.
“From what we can piece together, John finished his Friday’s work of cleaning the church for Sunday. He had turned on the pipe organ to play and then went and lay down on the couch in the library room,” said Elna Siebring, the church’s community networker. “He died peacefully during his nap.”
Winters had played the organ for All Nations since joining the church in 1970. For the past 15 years, following his retirement, he was also the church custodian. “He loved both and would take a break from cleaning to play the organ—either to practice for an upcoming service or for the sheer enjoyment of it,” said Dale Poel, a member of the property committee.
Rev. Dave Vroege knew Winters' patterns well. “John got the building ready and then, when done, would play the organ. That Friday afternoon was no different. When we found him the building was spotless and the organ was on, ready to be played. But the music he’d make was no longer to be on this earth.”