Some thought it would never happen. Thirty six years with Knox United in Calgary. But wait! Grant Dawson also served two other congregations: Kirkton-Woodham (4 yr) and Kazahazua (2 yr) in Ontario for a total of 42 years. And now he is retiring.
“I am still enjoying ministry”, he says.
While reading ads for ministers he was moved by the spirit, or perhaps a whim, to apply for Knox in Calgary. From the first time he saw the church it felt right and has continued to feel right. Knox, a huge old Presbyterian church has a variety of worshippers, straight, gay, street people and wealthy parishioners. It has been in the forefront of many movements. The church sold air rights to TransCanada Pipelines, a decision that monetarily enriched the church. He provided covenanting services before same gender marriages arrived. He advises us to keep an eye on what is happening in the culture. There is no use driving off in a bus if no one is on it..
When asked about his accomplishments Grant instead talks about the church community taking the time to make thoughtful decisions. He emphasizes the pastoral side of his role, saying that you can’t preach if you are not in touch with people, their hopes, fears and frustrations. He has encouraged worshippers to be a vibrant community, growing in worship, church structure, and theology.
“ People don’t want to just sit on committees, they want a job.”
The church needs to keep on growing, a challenge for a church surrounded by downtown businesses. Three families live in the parish. The rest come from all over the city.
Grant is an accomplished linguist, fluent in Mandarin, and at least conversant in French, Spanish, German, Russian, Greek, Hebrew and is now learning Italian for his post retirement trip. He and his wife, Dorothy, have travelled and look forward to Italy. He also loves computers.
And after retirement? Grant isn’t sure. After a couple of months he will look at options, perhaps teaching or writing. He will continue on the Board of the Oi Kwan Foundation for Calgary Presbytery.
When asked about frustrations Grant iterates that he is very positive. There are no problems, just situations (Tolle). He is a concerned by people who think that because there is disagreement they are unloved. He is also concerned about mindless bureaucracy, such as the imposition of the ADP on all congregations and mandatory courses for ministry.
I request a photo. His only stipulation is that he look like Brad Pitt. “No problem,” I tell him. It was a joy and privilege to meet with Grant. I know there is much left unsaid as I wish him well in his next journey.