Pastor’s Paragraph for September 6, 2020

Pastor's Paragraph for September 6, 2020



A year ago, I had the incredible privilege of sharing a eulogy at the funeral of a wonderful friend who died while he was a resident at the Claremont Farms in Carlisle. My friend, “Gump,” was an African American young man who was voted to the second all-state basketball team in his senior year at John Harris High School. He was 6’5”, could score from any place on the court, and was a ferocious rebounder. To top it off, he was a wonderful Christian who worked hard to live what he professed and was a faithful member of the Bethel AME Church on North 6th street in Harrisburg. Gump and I worked together in the summer, and in the years that we worked and attended school together, we shared a lot of dreams about our futures.

At the end of my senior year in high school, my local church, Park Street EUB Church in the hill section of Harrisburg, invited me to preach my first trial sermon as a student pastor to earn my Pastor’s License. Gump showed up that day and was seated in the first row of the sanctuary with a basketball buddy. How proud I was to see him there!

After high school, we went in different directions.  Gump went into the US Marines and served in Vienam while I headed to college and seminary, followed by pastoral appointments in Berks and Lancaster counties. We finally got together after I retired and moved back to the Harrisburg area. It was then that Gump told me that he had been exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam and had to have both legs amputated above the knees. What a shock! But our get-togethers were still great! We caught up on many years of separation, and he made me promise that I would call his pastor at Bethel AME Church and ask for the privilege of being one of the pastors to speak at Gump’s funeral. I did just that and had the bitter sweet opportunity to share our common memories when he died about one year later.

What did I share? I shared the way that Jesus Christ had tied us together as life-long friends. When we reunited 50 years after high school graduation, we remembered seeing the movie Exodus together and then having long discussions about how Christ had touched our lives and kept us active in our respective churches. The connection between Christians is unbreakable and eternal. We remain brothers and sisters in Christ forever. What a joy! Someday Gump and I will be talking again.


Rev. Dr. Jack Grove
New Members Ministry