Gordon Thomas Jorgenson

July 11, 1937 - October 28, 2010

 (John 11:25-26) Jesus said … “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, yet shall he live. {26} “And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.”

(Heavenly Secrets 4565) Weeping [at the departure of a loved one] signifies the last farewell, and hence it was customary [in ancient times] to weep for the dead, although they knew that only the body was rejected, and that they who had been in such a body were living as to their [spirit].

(Psalm 23) The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. {2} He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. {3} He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. {4} Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. {5} You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. {6} Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.

(Heaven and Hell 445) A person is said to die, but still he does not die; he is only separated from the material body which had served him for use in the world, but which can no longer be of any use to him, for the person himself lives. He is said to live because the person is not a human being from the body but from the spirit, for it is the spirit that thinks in the person, and the thought with affection, which makes the spirit, also makes the person. Hence it is that when someone dies, he only passes from one world to another.

(Psalm 20:6-7) Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven With the saving strength of His right hand. {7} Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the LORD our God.

(Divine Providence 324:3) In order that a person may live to eternity, it is necessary that what is mortal, or the material body, should be taken away from him by death. When this is done, that which is immortal is uncovered, and the person becomes a spirit [an inhabitant of the spiritual world] still in the human form .

(Psa 61:1-4) HEAR my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer. {2} From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. {3} For You have been a shelter for me, A strong tower from the enemy. {4} I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.

(Mat 6:19-21) “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; {20} “but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. {21} “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

(Psa 103:13-18) As a father pities his children, So the LORD pities those who fear Him. {14} For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust. {15} As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. {16} For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, And its place remembers it no more. {17} But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting On those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children’s children, {18} To such as keep His covenant, And to those who remember His commandments to do them.

(Divine Providence 324:6) Everyone is created to live to eternity in a happy state; for [the Lord] wills that everyone should live to eternity [and also wills] that he should live in a happy state. What would eternal life be without it? This state of a human being, indeed, is the [whole purpose] of creation. From these things it [can be clearly seen] that eternal life is also eternal happiness.

(Conjugial Love 321:7) Couples who have lived in a state of truly conjugial love are not actually separated by the death of one; for the spirit of the deceased continues to dwell with the spirit of the one not yet deceased, and this until the death of the other, at which time they come together again and are reunited, loving each other even more tenderly than before, because they are in the spiritual world.

(Heavenly Secrets 9210:1-3, portions) …Real charity does not have gain or reward as the end in view, but the neighbour’s good.... Anyone who does not know what Christian charity is may think that it consists not only in giving to the needy and poor but also in doing good to his fellow citizen, country, or Church for any reason whatever, that is, with no matter what end in view. But he should recognize that the end is what gives all of a person’s deeds their true character. If the end or intention is to do good for the sake of reputation, in order to acquire important positions or else monetary gain, the good that he does is not good because it is done for the sake of self and thus also originates in self. But if the end is to do good for his fellow citizen’s, country’s, or Church’s sake, thus for his neighbour’s sake, the good he does is good since it is done for the sake of good itself, which in general is the real neighbour, and so is also done for the Lord’s sake since such good does not have its origin in the person but in the Lord, and what originates in the Lord is the Lord’s. This is the good that is meant by the Lord in Matthew, Insofar as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers you did it to Me. Matt. 25:40.  

[2] People who do good in the spirit of Christian charity may sometimes look for reputation earned as a result of doing it, so as to obtain an important position or else monetary gain. But their attitude is altogether different from that of anyone for whom these things are his end in view. For they regard what is good and right as the essential, one and only thing that matters, and accordingly rank it in highest position.... When the eyes of people such as these are fixed on what is right and good they are like soldiers fighting in battle for their country. During it they give no thought at all to their life, nor thus to their status or their assets in the world, which compared with what they are doing are of no importance to them. But those who rank self and the world at the top are the kind of people who do not even see what is right and good, because their eyes are fixed on themselves and on gain.  

[3] All this shows what doing good for a selfish or a worldly reason is, what doing good for the Lord’s or for the neighbour’s sake is, and what is the difference between them. The difference is as great as that between two opposites, thus as great as that between heaven and hell. Furthermore those who do good for their neighbour’s or for the Lord’s sake are in heaven; but those who do it for a selfish or a worldly reason are in hell. For those who do good for their neighbour and the Lord’s sake love the Lord above all things and their neighbour as themselves - commandments which are the first of all the commandments, Mark 12:28-31.

(Revelation 22:12-14) “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. {13} “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” {14} Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have [power in] the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.

Gordon Thomas Jorgenson

A Memorial Address by

Rev. James P. Cooper

Toronto, October 31, 2010

Gordon’s story is that of so many Canadians. His grandparents abandoned the tyranny and poverty of Europe in the 19th Century to come help fill the incredible open spaces of the Prairies. They were solid Mennonite people from Prussia who produced 14 children. Gordon’s mother Beth was the youngest. They lived in Cranberry Portage, Manitoba (Gord always said it was “north of the vegetable line” to explain his preference for meat and potatoes). There were no roads, their only access to the outside world was by train. Their home was made of logs that didn’t keep out the wind. His father was a miner and would be away on jobs for extended periods. A little while after little brother Bruce was born, he stopped coming back. So, for much of his young life, he was the man of the family.

Gord’s grandparents had joined the New Church after coming to Canada, and while Gord was in High School, he and his mother became aware of a fund that would allow him to afford to attend the Academy of the New Church College in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania. And like so many other young Canadian men over the years, he took a 2,000 mile train ride into a whole different world.

He embraced this new life with enthusiasm and intelligence. He loved the formal training in the doctrines of the New Church. He made many lifelong friends, and - most important - he met the love of his life, Joan Parker from Toronto. People who met him then knew that in spite of his difficult early life, Gord was a “diamond in the rough.”

After two years at the Academy, he transferred to Northwestern University near Chicago where he studied Engineering, supported himself with co-op programs, and continued to court Joan while she went to nursing school here in Toronto. They married on January 9th, 1960 - 50 years ago - in this very church. Last January, on their 50th Anniversary, they stood here before us and rededicated themselves to their marriage.

Gord and Joan had 4 daughters over the next 14 years; Karen, Jill, Valerie, and Jennifer. They have in turn have given them 7 grandchildren.

Gordon’s professional life was important to him. He started working for Ferranti-Packard, but after 2 years moved to IBM where he was involved in the sale and after-market care of the old “main frame” type IBM business computers. His work sometimes took him to far away and interesting places like Tehran, Brazil, and Holland. For 13 years it took him - and the family - to the Eastern Townships of Quebec.

After returning to Toronto to be IBM’s National Environmental Coordinator, he took an early retirement and set up two companies. One provided environmental consulting to companies like Kraft Foods, the other was to help churches manage their finances. But he soon “retired” all the way so that he could put in countless volunteer hours for the church that he loved so much.

A partial list of his volunteer actives would include:

Board Member, General Church, and the Academy of the New Church

Treasurer (and Assistant Treasurer) at Olivet Church in Toronto.

Administrator of the General Church in Canada Board of Directors.

Chairman of the Committee that organized the General Church Assembly in Guelph in 2000.

In the less formal areas of the life of the church, he sponsored a number of people in this congregation to ease their entry into Canadian life. He and Joan have opened their home time and again to visitors - some who stayed for months - in the hope of strengthening the Olivet congregation. Over the past few years he’s been working on a Masters of Religious Studies from the Academy of the New Church Theological School.

Several young men have spoken to me in confidence during the last few months of times where Gord’s integrity in word, act, and example helped them get themselves straightened out. Several have called him their hero.

It’s interesting that so many people hold Gordon as an example of a good husband and father, but his own father was not a good example. Marrying and becoming a father himself in the early 60’s he followed the thinking and customs of the time and could be stern and distant. But over time he came to see a different way because instead of being satisfied with the way he had always done it, he was always seeking a better way and, when possible, making it his own. For example, one of the girls was on a weekend camping trip with the Guides when it turned unexpectedly cold. Gord gathered up extra sleeping bags, blankets, and warm clothes and drove out to the camp to make sure that all the girls would be warm enough.

Another man said to me, “We have had the utmost respect for all of Gord’s wonderful qualities, his love for the doctrines of the New Church, and his devotion to the Olivet society. We always knew if Gord took on a task for the Church it would be done with sincerity and abundant attention to all the details, you also knew if you took over one of his jobs, he would be watching you very closely, and checking that no short cuts were taken.”

He wasn’t all business. He loved his kids and his grand kids. He felt the loss of Val and Kamil’s baby Larsa profoundly. We’ll all have different memories of him that revolve around ice cream. We’ll come to miss the enthusiastic pats on the back that came with a greeting hug. Did you know that coffee right out of the pot isn’t hot enough? It has to go into the microwave, too. Because of his professional interest in environmental things, he like to stop and look at landfills and water treatment plants - and even photograph them. His daughters still don’t get that. The phrase “putting some skin in it” to remind us that the church will support our efforts, but not do the whole job for us. I’m sure that when we get downstairs people will enjoy reminding us of some of the other things that will always make us think of Gord.

But what can we do to honour his memory? Think back and picture Gord seeking out the young people of the congregation, giving a firm, two handed handshake and asking about their plans. He really cared about keeping the young people connected to the church because his own life had been so profoundly turned around by the gift of New Church Education. One of the ways we could honour his memory is to pick up the banner by seeking out, welcoming, and encouraging the young people of our church families to come and take part and find satisfying useful work, and lifelong friendships.

Gord was one of the good guys. We’ll all miss him. But those folks in the spiritual world are rejoicing, saying, “have we got some jobs for you!”

Gord wouldn’t be happy unless we wrapped this up by turning back to some good solid doctrine from the Word.

Apocalypse Revealed 951. (REV 22:14) Happy are they that do His commandments, that their power may be in the tree of life, and they may enter in through the gates into the city, signifies that they have eternal [happiness] who live according to the Lord’s commandments, to the end that they may be in the Lord and the Lord in them by love, and in His New Church by knowledges concerning Him.

By “happy” are signified they who have the felicity of eternal life.

By “doing His commandments,” is signified to live according to the Lord’s precepts;

“that their power may be in the tree of life,” signifies to the end that they may be in the Lord and the Lord in them by love, that is, for the Lord’s sake....

[2] That by “their power is in the tree of life,” is signified to the end that they may be in the Lord and the Lord in them, or for the Lord’s sake, is because by “the tree of life” is signified the Lord as to the Divine love;

and by “power in that tree” is signified power from the Lord, because they are in the Lord and the Lord in them; …

That they who are in the Lord and the Lord in them are in all power, insomuch that whatsoever they will, they can do, the Lord Himself says in John: He that abides in Me and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing; if you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you (John 15:5, 7)....

By these words is described the power of those who are in the Lord; these do not will anything, and so do not ask anything, but from the Lord, and whatsoever they will and ask from the Lord, the same is done....

(Mat 25:21) “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’”


Closing Prayer

O Lord Jesus Christ, our Heavenly Father, when someone we know and love passes into the spiritual world we are filled with many thoughts and questions. Why now and not some other time? How did this serve Your Divine Providence? We feel happiness because he has been released from the limitations of his failing body, and we feel sadness because he is no longer with us. O Lord, as we open our minds to thoughts of You and Your government of the natural and spiritual worlds, we pray that You will give us comfort, hope, and peace. Amen.

 (Corrected and revised Nov. 2, 2010)