Saturday, February 27, 2010

Council of Churches on Steve de Gruchy

Released Friday, 26 February 2010
Message to:

The Family of Prof Steve de Gruchy
The United Congregational Church
The School of Theology & Religion- UKZN
The South African Christian Churches at Large
People of Faith in South Africa
Academics (in the service of the church)
Friends and Colleagues from all over the world
Fellow (South) Africans

Dear Sisters and Brothers

We are shocked at the sudden passing away of Professor Steve de Gruchy, our brother and friend.

Please receive the sincere condolences of the SACC and all our members. We pray that this period of grief and mourning will be lighter as you reflect on the life and contributions to the Church and broader society that Steve has made with so much dedication. We all bear testimony to the great love that Steve had for life - in all its forms.

The SACC recalls, with adoration, the sterling manner in which Steve assisted our Triennial Conference of Churches (during 2007) to appreciate the important theological connections between the economy and the ecology. We remember how he uncompromisingly stood for justice and promoted righteousness rooted in the infinite love of Christ. This is a love that at times extends beyond our human understanding.

Steve’s theological insights and his vision for mission served as a source of encouragement and consistently challenged the way we do theology and engage in mission. The lenses through which he looked at profound questions were always informed by a deep spirituality, scholarly discernment and passion for the truth. He never had to raise his voice in order to be heard or to convince any opposition, because he was such a humble servant of the poor and our Creator.

Through the way that he practiced our common faith, Steve was able to make many friends and to embarrass those who wanted to be his enemies. He was blessed with the capacities to love even those that wished to be his enemies. This is a demonstration of how dearly Steve loved our Lord and Saviour.

The SACC commends the humility with which Steve served the international ecumenical movement and enriched our lives. He rigorously pursued the family tradition of ecumenism through his unselfish services in the World Council of Churches, World Alliance of Reformed Churches, Council for World Mission and the SA Council of Churches - both nationally and provincially.

The wealth of the selfless sacrifices that Steve made in all our lives only adds to the shock of his sudden death.

At this time of bereavement we wish to offer comfort to the family and the many people who had the opportunity to experience the many gifts that Steve shared with us. We are struggling to find appropriate words as we understand that the pain is deep. As we attempt to find comfort by reflecting on Steve’s life, we know who our True Comforter is.
We rely on the promise in the Gospel of John (14:15-31) that the parakletos will fill the needs of the De Gruchy family during this time of tenderness and mourning. When you and the rest of the people who love and know Steve raise many questions, may there be comfort in the knowledge that the Holy Spirit teaches us all things. We believe that the will of the Holy Spirit and that of Jesus Christ is one and we know that Jesus wills for us to have life everlasting (Jn 10:10).

Though we will all miss Steve, and do so sorely, we trust that he is not dead. Steve will always live in our memories. His love for life can not be taken away by water which is a source of life. We appreciate and often value the mystery of God’s salvation. All things tie in directly with the plan of salvation and the blessings it brings. We therefore value the teachings of the Holy Spirit even more.

Dear Marian, Steve's wife, and his children Thea, David, and Kate as well as the parents and siblings of Steve and Marian, be assured that God has a wonderful plan in place. We can rejoice that Steve has been promoted, for his departure is a promotion as he is returning to God our Creator. His death may for a time appear to represent defeat, but it will ultimately be a victory.

May the soul of Steve de Gruchy and many other dearly departed find eternal rest at the place that Jesus had gone to prepare for us.

From the SACC National Executive Committee
On behalf of all SACC Members.
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