Wednesday, May 13, 2009


He has been a Methodist preacher for 60 years.

In 1949 my father was challenged to do something meaningful with his life, followed closely thereafter by the conviction that God was calling him to become a Christian Minister. Thus began a journey that my extended family celebrated with my Dad last Sunday – 60 years later.

He left the South African Air Force after World War Two and found a job at ISCOR in Pretoria. In his own words: “I had a choice of places to find friends – either in the pub or in the church. And I had had enough of the pubs while in the airforce.” And so in search of friends he joined a group of young adults in the Pretoria Central Methodist Church. And here found not only lifelong friends, but also a spiritual foundation that would shape the rest of his life. His theological thinking is rooted in Leslie Weatherhead and William Barclay, and his church practice takes place in the shadow of mentors like Dr David Bandy and the Rev Jack Cook.

I am proud of my father.
• He is a good teacher, who has given his life to explaining the Christian faith. Throughout the past 60 years he has written Bible Study notes, led weekly groups where he has encouraged people to live faithfully, and preached sermon series long before this became a familiar teaching tool.
• He is an innovative worship leader. He found ways to sing hymns and songs to contemporary music long before Hillsongs and Kingsway Music became the norm; he introduced “youth services” with drums and guitars into the Methodist Church of the 60’s and 70’s – again long before this was deemed acceptable; he has always produced thoughtful orders of worship that include personally written liturgy and creative congregational responses.
• He is an evangelical preacher. He does not preach for entertainment. Instead he preaches for a response. And he often includes an altar call which asks people to commit their lives to making a difference in society.

And Sunday was no different. He is 83 years old and has become frail. He cannot stand for the duration of the service, and so preached while sitting behind a table with his notes and a microphone in front of him. But his frailty does not dim his passion. He spoke of the call of God to take off the old garments and be clothed in the new garments of Christ. He noted that these are the garments of righteousness (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, self control) given us when the Spirit of Jesus lives within us. And he challenged us to a response: and some responded by walking to the communion rail and kneeling for prayer.

And I thanked God for Stanley James Grassow. He has remained faithful to the call of God.


Cecilia said...

What a wonderfully faithful man... no wonder you are the way you are, Pete. Apple, tree. What a blessing.

Pax, C.

barbara said...

This is a beautiful tribute to your father, Pete. I loved reading about him! Thank you!