Death and Life in a Small New Hampshire Church

“Pray for one another that you may be healed.” – James, 5:16

My cousin Pam lived alone on a small New Hampshire farm she inherited from her parents.  We did not see each other often, but the contours of her face and particularly the cadence of her voice were such that you wouldn’t need a DNA test to know we are related.

Another cousin told me that Pam’s cancer had recurred and that death was near.  How sad, I thought, to approach death alone.  So I got in my car and wended my way through the serpentine roads of New Hampshire.  When I got near the little town of Hebron, NH, the GPS system quit.  This was one place it did not recognize.  So I stopped at the small Congregational church, where I interrupted a Bible study, and asked if anyone knew where Pam Yinger lives.  They all did.  One member of the group accompanied me to my car to point out the road I should take.

When I got to Pam’s house, the driveway was clotted with cars.  Inside, there was a gentle hum of activity.  I was greeted by my cousin Michael.  A woman was making tea.  A few others just seemed to be hanging out.  One of them took me to see Pam in the living room, which was festooned with more trinkets than any flea market.

Pam and I chatted a bit.  I learned that, besides my cousin, the people in the house were all from the church.  They took turns throughout the day and night so she would be cared for round-the-clock.  Before I left, this small handful of God’s people, in a land that the GPS forgot, held hands with Pam and one another and we prayed.  After I said, “Amen,” Pam added her own, “Thank you, dears.”

Pam died two days later.

They say the church is dying.  Don’t you believe it.


God, thank you that, in the presence of death, you breathe life.

About the Author
Martin B. Copenhaver is President of Andover Newton Theological School.  His newest book is Room to Grow: Meditations on Trying to Live as a Christian.