Jerry Ebbinga was born on Jan. 1, 1941 on a farm close to, as he was fond of saying, “Lake Wobegon.” In truth he grew up in Avoca near Slayton, Minn.; the second son of three born to skilled crafts people in the community.
His father, a gentle giant blacksmith who ran the community farm ma-chine shop, his mother a crafter of rambunctious boys, cinnamon rolls and family values. In this “foundry” Jerry developed large grasping hands, a deep commitment to family and community, a vocation of service, a strong sense of stewardship of the environment, and a heart for others that could not be quenched.
He also learned the necessity and value of craftsmanship and “good work” in all things, a lesson he practiced throughout his life’s work, and passed on to many of us.
Those large hands tempered on iron and steel found comfort, sol-ace and spiritual communion with musical instruments. Be it piano, horn, or guitar, music was a source and practice of worship. His voice echoed and came into harmony with the work of his hands leading him to a music education degree at MacPhail College of Music, and the joining of softer hands with Crystalle, bonded in love and life on June 3, 1961.
Further refining came in the shape of teaching and performing in a variety of jobs and daily life experiences, but his life would be forever altered after a conversation with a mentor who asked simple questions that burned with the kind of heat that purifies, focuses, enlightens and motivates while providing little comfort or assurance, only asking for trust. God’s heat or perhaps, His calling. Jerry responded by entering Luther Theological Seminary in St. Paul, Minn.
Together He and Crystalle put their hearts and tools to the anvil and began working with the hardest material to forge, mold, mentor, and love: People. Soon they adopted two of their children, sons Kurtis and Spencer, and made their way to Saskatchewan to teach and preach and share God’s grace on the Canadian prairie. There they adopted their daughter Brittanee, and a small clan was born.
Jerry and Crystalle’s ministry took them from central Canada to the greater Los Angeles basin where he earned a Doctor of Ministry Degree from the School of Theology at Claremont, Calif. He worked for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s Council of Bishops throughout the western U.S., and eventually retired from Our Saviors Lutheran Church in Great Falls, Mont., to live in Fountain Hills.
In retirement he served several congregations in Arizona with his healing ministry. Jerry Ebbinga was passionate about people and his legacy is marked by deep love, compassion, empathy, and the ability to encourage others. This is perhaps best evidenced in the lives of people who were influenced by his work as a teacher, preacher, storyteller, artist, healer of persons, husband, father and friend.
Jerry passed away on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. He is survived by his loving wife, Crystalle; a brother, Clarence (JoAnne) of Enterprise, Ala.; two sons, Kurtis (Karen), Newport Beach, Calif., Spencer (Suzette), Spanaway, Wash.; a daughter, Brittanee Pepper (Chris), Las Vegas, Nev.; and seven grandchildren, Kohl, Kaden, Koen, Chase, Bailey, Josie and Elsa.
A memorial gathering will be held at Messinger Mortuary in Fountain Hills on Friday, Sept. 4, from 6 to 8 p.m. The Celebration of Life service will be held Saturday, Sept. 5, 1:30 p.m. at The Fountains, a United Methodist Church, Fountain Hills.
In lieu of flowers donations could be made in Jerry’s name to REMCU.org, an organization Jerry was currently working closely with that serves rural, impoverished communities in Uganda.
Courtesy of The Fountain Hills Times http://www.fhtimes.com/