Of Building and Buildings, Things Seen and Unseen
As pillars of the west coast Church of the Brethren and visionaries of the church planting movement of the mid 20th century, Forrest Groff and his spouse Della (Lam) were true builders, both in the pastoral sense and in the world of construction.
He had a vision of church planting that was unique indeed. After educational pursuits in the late ‘30s and early ‘40s at McPherson College, Bethany Seminary, and the University of Oregon School of Architecture, they embarked on a career of church building. As denominational architect for the Church of the Brethren, Forrest was involved in as many as 150 new church projects as designer and was construction manager for a dozen churches during his lifetime. He was a central figure in the building of Hospital housing in Castaner, Puerto Rico, the chapel at the Cedars in McPherson, Kansas and of the Forest Dell Lodge at Camp Myrtlewood in Oregon. He served as pastor of 6 congregations in Oregon and California.
When loss of sight limited Forrest’s activities, the Groffs’ love of and commitment to the church and its institutions never wavered. Della made sure that they would continue to be involved. As late as 1996 when they were both in their mid 80s, Della and Forrest drove 8,000 miles across country to visit family and friends as a part of their journey to Annual Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. Forrest’s faithful guide dog, Texas, was always at their sides. In an effort to capture the widely varying experiences they had shared over their joint career, Forrest and Della wrote and published an autobiographical study of their work in 2002, By Faith I Will Overcome.
Out of their desire to encourage future pastoral leadership for Brethren congregations, they had long planned to leave an endowment gift to Bethany. They carried out that plan by creating a provision in their living trusts to give assets to Bethany at the time of their passing. The tool was a commonly employed “A-B trust” procedure. If you have interest in such estate planning tools, please contact Lowell Flory at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Della and Forrest died just 7 weeks apart in November-December 2005.