13 September 2010

Dr Vernon C Grounds

I now know why there was a certain comfort and joy in our modest church service yesterday, something which always catches you off-guard when you are fledgling through the transition from difficult circumstances. Later in the evening I received an email that informed me of the passing of Dr Vernon Grounds, longtime professor, president and chancellor of Denver Seminary . . . and, along with a seemingly endless parade of others, a friend.

Although you have a certain expectation that this day would come for someone who is ninety-six, the news still brought a tear to my eye as I remembered fondly the uniqueness of this man. I remember working at the seminary bookstore when, on many occasions, he would walk in singing an old tent-revival song or long-lost hymn from another era of evangelicalism. But that made sense, for he was alive before the rise of modern evangelicalism and has seen it move through a few generations - good and bad.

Many have had the privilege of sitting in his office on a given afternoon, talking with him as the rest of the world passed by, knowing full well that the off-the-cuff conversation you were having in this brief moment was worth more than a week's worth of talks with pastors and professors. He was an intellectual, but he used his intellect to serve the church, which is no longer a common trait among those in the academy. He was an ambassador, not only for Denver Seminary, but also for the evangelical message and for the kingdom of God. He was a counsellor, which drove him to continue meeting with people long into his retirement. And he was a servant, always carrying himself in such a way as to make others feel comfortable over his own needs and desires.

These qualities demonstrate a life changed by the cross of Christ. And we who knew Dr Grounds saw this readily in his daily walk. He will be missed; we who continue to push forward in the work of the church will do so now in the wake of his ministry. But now I know why there was a certain comfort and joy in our modest church service yesterday. Because God saw it a fitting tribute to one of his most gracious servants that we should experience a special blessing of his Spirit, an experience of Godly comfort and joy.

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