When we lived in Boston we attended church in the Boston Branch. It began as a small congregation roughly divided into thirds consisting of a Haitian group, a Spanish group and an English group. They were undoubtedly one of the closest congregations we ever were a part of. We had about 100 baptisms a year and rapidely grew into two wards, a Spanish and Haitian branches. Dick Lavin, our Bishop was universally loved and somehow held everything together. Brother Burnham was a dear brother that was blind but full of faith and the spirit. In spite of being 90 years old, Bishop Lavin would regularly have him come up to the pulpit and sing for the congregation. He sang many songs, but my favorite was always ‘When We All Get To Heaven’.
When I returned to Boston for a conference in 2010, Tiffany, Robyn and I got to meet the old ward members and see Brother Burnham, now over 100 years old. Still sharp as a tack and even remembered Robyn when she was a baby.
I will always love Brother Burnham and admire great love for the Lord. He couldn’t see, but boy could he hear. He listened intently to every prayer, and when someone thanked God, in prayer, Alphonso let it be known that he was in agreement. The person praying would say ‘we are thankful . . . ‘ and Brother Burnham would proclaim “OH YES, LORD . . . SO VERY THANKFUL.” Though old and blind, he was of all of us most grateful–so much that he couldn’t contain it. I wish we had more of this spontaneity and sincerity in our worship. Everyone knew where Alphonso’s love was centered. His optimism and certainty of the promise of his redemption by the Lord was a defining element of his character. The lyrics of my favorite song combined with Brother Burnham’s unshakable faith in Christ continue to inspire me today.
The audio on the slide show below is an actual recording of Brother Burnham singing (edited and accompanied by Greg Devore). Enjoy!