By Rick Wolcott*
Dozens of East Ohio Conference clergy came to celebrate the life of the Rev. Orlando Chaffee, 60, who passed away on December 18. His colleagues, dressed in black robes with white stoles, processed into the sanctuary at the beginning of the funeral service.
“Rev. Chaffee gave 32 years of his life to The United Methodist Church, serving local churches and also serving as a district superintendent,” said Bishop Tracy S. Malone, resident bishop of the East Ohio Conference. “He was deeply loved and well-respected as pastor and leader not only in the churches but also in the communities in which he served.”
Bishop Julius C. Trimble, resident bishop of the Indiana Conference, said of his long-time friend, “Orlando loved Jesus and he was a friend to pastors.”
Tears, smiles, and stories filled the air of Grace Missionary Baptist Church in Cleveland as hundreds gathered just a few days after Christmas.
“Orlando Chaffee loved people, and he was sure about his call,” said North Coast District Superintendent the Rev. Dr. Steve Bailey. “He was a pastor everywhere he would go.”
Since July, Rev. Chaffee had been serving Mount Pleasant UMC in Cleveland. He previously served the following East Ohio Conference appointments: Cory, Willson, Windermere, superintendent of Mahoning Valley District, superintendent of North Coast District, Bedford First, Maple Heights, and Cleveland Saint Matthew.
In his eulogy the Rev. Myron McCoy, senior pastor of First United Methodist Church/Chicago Temple in the Northern Illinois Conference said, “In Orlando we saw a man of extremely good actions.”
Many of those actions involved his family, whom he loved greatly. Rev. Chaffee was a devoted husband to Velma, and the loving father of Orlando, Ondra and Omar. He was a dear grandfather, brother, son-in-law, nephew, cousin, and friend.
Omar Chaffee called his dad “a shooting star.” He said he had all of the qualities of the celestial phenomenon – he shined bright, was gone in an instant, and would never be forgotten.
“Go with God, Orlando. You have fought the good fight.” Bishop Malone said. “We give thanks to God for a life well-lived. Rest, Orlando, rest. To God be the glory for the good work and the faithful witness that we have in our beloved Orlando Chaffee.”
At the conclusion of the service, clergy members processed out of the building. They lined the stairs and the sidewalk, surrounding the Rev. Orlando Chaffee, and his family, with love as his casket was carried out of the church.
*Rick Wolcott is director of Communications for the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church.