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Memorial Service for Hilda Carper

Updated: Feb 3, 2022

A Celebration of Hilda Carper's life will be held on Sun, Feb 6 at 2 pm, in person at the Reba Meetinghouse at 620 Madison St, Evanston (all attendees wearing masks). Watch the service online via Facebook Live or better yet, use this Zoom link for full participation in the sharing time after the service. If the COVID pandemic risk factors change for the worse, then the whole service will be held online, without an in-person gathering. Please watch the Reba website, Facebook page, and notices in the 24/7 for updates.

The service will be followed by a time of open sharing in the Zoom and Room so all those who knew and loved Hilda will have a chance to testify, grieve and celebrate her together. Due to current safety constraints, there will not be a reception with food. Let's keep Hilda's sister and extended family, and especially the members of The Clearing household and others particularly close to Hilda, in our prayers. ~Pastor Charlotte

A lovely tribute from Connections for the Homeless, where Hilda served as the first Shelter Director for Hilda’s Place, is shared here. Donations to the Reba Early Learning Center (formerly Reba Day Nursery), which Hilda organized, can be made on the RELC website.

Make a memorial gift to Mennonite Central Committee for relief and development work on the MCC website.

Hilda Carper (March 4, 1927 – December 22, 2021)

Hilda Weber Carper, 94, died peacefully at home in her Reba Place Fellowship household, the Clearing, on December 22, 2021. She was born March 4, 1927, to Reuben and Eva Carper, third of four children, on a farm in Lancaster County, PA. She credited her schoolteacher mother and Mennonite Church upbringing as important spiritual and educational influences in her life.

After her family moved to southeast Virginia, she completed high school and attended Eastern Mennonite College for a year. She finished her college degree at Goshen College in 1950, after taking time off to teach in Virginia and Detroit, MI. She then accepted a 5-year assignment writing children’s church curriculum in Basel, Switzerland with the Mennonite Central Committee, serving there from 1953-1957.

From her contacts among Mennonite expatriates in Europe came an invitation to become part of the intentional Christian community forming at Reba Place Fellowship in Evanston, IL. But it turned out her skills were more needed at a sister church in Chicago’s inner city, so she volunteered instead at Church of Hope in Chicago’s West Side Christian Parish as a teacher, choir director, and eventual pastoral assistant to Rev. Julius Belser.

Urban renewal forced the church’s closure in 1966 when the Belsers and Hilda moved to Reba Place. There Hilda organized the Reba Day Nursery (now known as the Reba Early Learning Center) in the church house at 727 Reba Place. In 1976 she was asked to assist the growth of Reba Place Fellowship by taking on pastoral and administrative leadership as an elder and household leader. Worship life was enhanced by her work in compiling a songbook, making worship banners, and singing in the music group. She eventually reunited with Julius and Peggy Belser in leading the Clearing Household in the early 80’s.

Contact with homeless people at the Clearing led Hilda to seek a more structured way to support the needs of Evanston’s homeless. In 1984, she volunteered to make breakfasts for those staying overnight at the Lake Street Church and became the first director of the Connections for the Homeless shelter there until 1992. Residents began to say they lived at Hilda’s Place, and when she retired, the name became official. In retirement, Hilda designed attractive tissue paper collage greeting cards for sale, supported several justice endeavors and continued offering pastoral care.

She is preceded in death by her parents, mother, brother James Carper and sister Ruth Eitzen, and is survived by sister Jean Miller, Lititz, PA, and many nieces, nephews and “spiritual children."

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