Turning 80 years old this year has given me cause to reflect on my time at Gordon. I first came to Gordon in 1953—55 years ago! Fresh out of Westminster Seminary, newly married and just beginning doctoral work at Harvard, I started out as an “instructor” in the Philosophy Department, commuting to Gordon from Cambridge. I remember working days at Gordon and nights at a local inn to help pay the bills and provide for the baby that came along shortly. Life was busy and full, but I taught because I felt firmly committed to Christian higher education and because I was drawn so deeply to Gordon’s integration of life, faith and teaching. Gordon has changed over the years, but, if anything, I have seen it grow into a more mature plant.
As I’ve reflected on my life, I can see God’s hand so clearly. I remember the first time I came to understand what it really meant to give my life to Jesus. It was in the days when gasoline was rationed, so I’d hitchhiked 750 miles from Miami to the conference center in Georgia where my high school friend had invited me to stay and work for the summer. I’d had to quit the Dade County All-Star baseball team I’d been elected to play on as well as my summer job. My folks weren’t so happy about that, but it ended up being a good decision. It put me in touch for the first time with the idea of a personal faith. Hitchhiking back to Miami at the summer’s end, I was often picked up by Christians. The car-ride conversations cemented my faith and gave me cause to seek Christ throughout the rest of my life.
Jacob names the spot where he encounters God “Peniel,” saying, “I have seen God face to face and my life is preserved” (Genesis 32:30). The little Christian camp and center in upstate New York by the same name--which I came to as a young man and through which I met my first wife--has consistently been a place for me to encounter God as well. Peniel, more than any other place, has taught me that God dwells within me and walks with me.
Daily Prayer and Time in the Scriptures
I learned in my youth to pray every day and spend quiet time in the Scriptures, and I’ve tried to stick by that.
The Works of Herman Dooyeweerd
Dooyeweerd was a Dutch philosopher who felt all thought is religious in character and Christians should allow this orientation to affect how they understand the world. Much of my doctoral work was based on Dooyeweerd’s ideas. Though I lost my thesis when my office burned, I’m still inspired by this man’s philosophy.
First Presbyterian Church of the North Shore
In 1954, we started First Presbyterian Church out of a home in Hamilton. I am astounded by its solid growth and thankful for how as a community it has sustained me throughout the years.
Written in collaboration with Grady’s granddaughter, Janel (Stockwell) Wright ’05