Honoring Helen Burkholder

Sometimes there are special people and sometimes there are SPECIAL people. Today at church we honored the legacy of Helen Burkholder before she leaves our midst and moves to Virginia Mennonite Retirement Center.


Mother and daughter: Bev Kennell and Helen Burkholder

In June 1965, Louie and Helen moved their dairy farm from Denbigh to Powhatan. For about a year the Burkholders had been traveling every Sunday to Powhatan where Louie had been asked to preach to a fledging congregation.  The Burkholders had four young children and they faithfully and willingly traveled 2 hours between the morning and evening milkings. Louie was our first pastor, serving from 1964-1982 and 1984-86.

Helen always had a love for music, especially hymns.  Today we sang several that were very special to her. Two groups also had special music in her honor.


Ladies Group: “Sweet Are the Promises”

(Sorry, I only got the last verse on video)


“Be Still My Soul”



IMG_8088 Marie Hertzler shared some memories about the early days of Helen’s ministry in our congregation.


Connie Lancaster shared about Helen’s prison ministry.

Helen and Louie, were involved in prison ministry for many years.  They would go weekly for Bible study; Helen to the women’s prison in Goochland and Louie to the men’s unit in Powhatan/Goochland.  Numerous persons in the congregation helped with that ministry for which they had a passion. For over 25 years, Helen graded Bible studies and counseled the women in prison.

Helen loved to sew and was a gifted artist. She started the women’s sewing circle which has continued to this day although it has gone through numerous name changes.

For many years our congregation was blessed to have two past, retired, pastors and their wives (Louie and Helen Burkholder, Pres and Carolyn Nowlin) in our midst. They added so much to our congregational life and were never a hindrance or threat to new leadership. Now, that era in our church has officially come to an end…there will be no past pastors or wives. It is interesting that two of them are at VMRC where Helen will be; Paul & Bertha Swarr and Pres & Carolyn Nowlin.

The ladies group closed with “Blest Be the Tide That Binds”, a very fitting song that reflects the feelings of the congregation.


We love you Helen and thank God for your faithful service through the past 51 years. Your gracious and gentle spirit has truly blessed our congregation.

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