“There is Not a Spot where God is Not,” “The Light of God Surrounds Us,” “God Is,” “I AM a Child of God” and “That’s the Truth!” This is a small sample of some of the universal “spiritual truths” taught by the late The Right Reverend Grant Lynn Ford. Grant was “New Thought” decades before New Thought theology was cool.
This Sunday, March 31 we gather to celebrate Grant’s life and ministry. As I write this article, I can hear him say to me, “I was never late, ever! Decades of worship experiences over the years and never late once!” Grant’s humor was the center of his ministry. His humor helped us to reconcile, heal, and especially inspired us over the last few decades to grow and celebrate spiritually, individually and as a community.
Today there are options of mainstream churches who embrace and celebrate the LGBTQ community, but Grant was here to provide a spiritual home during the years when there was no other option. I remember when I came out of the closet in 1999 and had not attended a church in over twenty years. It was the hospitality, self-confidence and love expressed by Grant, on my first visit to his church that led me to reconciliation with God. Now I have a master’s degree in theology, but it only took a sample of his teachings and example for me to know that God loves me exactly how “she” created me to be! Grant opened my mind up to think of God in non-traditional ways that had been instilled within me. He taught me not to ever again put God “in a box” or attempt to limit what God has planned for me. Grant taught me the beauty of questioning traditional thought and interpretation and to think for myself.
I will never forget the day that I walked in to Grant’s office (I served as his church’s first ever executive director) and told Grant that I felt a call to pastoral ministry. It wasn’t the reply that I expected. He told me many of the challenges that come along with the call. The Right Reverend Grant Lynn Ford told me about the loss of your “personal” identity and how he went from Grant to “The Right Reverend.” He told me that many times it was lonely as people only got to know him in a pastoral sense.
Over the years I got to know the man behind the collar and beyond the pageantry we loved him for so well. Grant was a father, cook, world traveler, avid reader, and he loved to dine at new restaurants and meet new people who would get to know the man behind the lavish vestments and clergy attire. Grant had many passions and when he was connected with one of his joys, whether it was religious or otherwise, his eyes would light up with that spark that we will never forget.
As we remember The Right Reverend Grant Lynn Ford this weekend and the legacy as a preacher, teacher and visionary that he has left behind for the world to make it a better place, let us remember and celebrate Grant as a person and a friend who so passionately said “yes” to love. And “That’s the Truth!”
By Rev. Patrick Rogers, MDiv.