The Rev. Dr. John deVelder fell asleep in the Lord on December 17, 2015 after having suffered a massive stroke. While there will be many other more comprehensive obituary notices, John was a very close colleague and friend to many, including me, and had an impact on our Orthodox community. So it is with great sadness that I share the following:
John, of Dutch descent, was the son of Walter Reformed Church missionary in China, who married the daughter (Margaret) of John Otte, a medical missionary there. He traveled with his wife Linda in 1998 to represent the family at the celebration there. You can click here to read the story.
John began the CPE Program at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in 1983, and after "retirement" in January of this year, celebrated his final graduation in May. Though a remarkable achievement all by itself, this 30+ year program oversight is part of a much larger picture of John truly being a missionary in clinical training.
John was the Convener of the CPSP NY/NJ Chapter for most of its history, dating from the early 90's up until the chapter was recently re-identified. He was also a past-president of CPSP. I was introduced to this chapter in 1994, and after being certified through that chapter later served as convener for about 9 years. I only share this self-reference to underscore what I witnessed as the most significant work of this chapter, led by John and the Rev. Dr. Richard Liew, of developing indigenous CPE programs. In 1999 (see photo) the three of us, with others, collaborated with a group of Korean Chaplains who briefly visited the US, in developing CPE in South Korea. This was the first of many indigenous training groups: Singapore, Italy, Ghana, Israel, just to name a few. He was a founding grandfather in the Malaysian CPE Program that has developed The Asia Pacific Council for Clinical Supervision & Psychotherapy. He is shown in photos from the Asia-Pacific Symposium, held in Malaysia in November of 2008, where he was a Keynote Speaker.
John was also very active in the greater pastoral care and counseling community. He served during a tumultuous time (both due to premature resignation of previous chair, and what was unfolding in that community at the time) as Chair of the Commission on Ministry in Specialized Settings (COMISS). It was in this role that he traveled to St. Tikhon's Seminary to participate in our first-ever institutional and military chaplaincy gathering in 2006 (see photos). John was known literally around the world in his missionary chaplaincy work, always serving to encourage others to take creative steps.
I would be remiss to mention that John traveled to St. John's Hospital in Far Rockaway, NY on November 1st, 2012, just days after Storm Sandy devestated this area, to chair a very signficant accreditation review for the CPE program there where I followed the Rev. Dr. Richard Liew as Director. This review would be a pivotal day for the program in its re-accreditation, and was hailed by the hospital's CEO as a sign of life moving on in the wake of the devestation. You can see the story on this site by clicking here.
I share this last story to personally highlight just how willing John was to step in and support initiatives in clinical training that was a hallmark of his service, ministry, and supervision. It is in many ways a terrible loss to the clinical training community that John really did not have any time to celebrate, write about, or reflect on these many events in retirement, for future generations to draw from. May his memory be eternally with God, and we pray for Linda and their family during their time of grief.
John deVelder’s memorial service was held on Saturday, January 9, 2016 from 10-11:30am at Kirkpatrick Chapel New Brunswick, NJ.