Posted in From Al & Libbie, Prayer Requests, Updates at 7:35 am by Libbie

Yesterday the kids had a meltdown day, and both Eowyn and Alden stayed home from school. That gave us a chance to step out of the pressure of make-up work, etc. and just talk, and grieve, and cry, and comfort each other. 

We miss Al. We are so glad to know that he is enjoying the glory of heavenly life in God’s presence, which he had longed for for years, and that knowledge does bring great comfort, but at the very same time his absence here is felt pretty keenly. He was an integral part of the warp and woof of our lives, and now that fabric has a big hole in it. We just plain miss him. The Lord doesn’t promise that he’ll make that ache go away, but he does promise that we will see Al again, and he does promise to be here with us each moment as we live our daily lives with the ache in our hearts. He is steadfastly faithful to his promises, so we know he will see us through, and we are grateful for that.

Please pray especially for Eowyn and Alden as they are back in school today that they would be very aware of the Lord’s presence with them.




February 10, 2007 Memorial Service Video Archives

Posted in General at 1:25 pm by Karyn

The February 10, 2007, webcast from the Memorial Service for Al is now available for viewing at your convenience. Click on the links below to stream the video from the various sections of the service. The streaming archives are in Quicktime format. If you do not have the Quicktime player and you have a PC, you can download it free here. If you have a Mac and you need to download Quicktime, click here.

Thank you for your patience in waiting for this video to be available. You can download a PDF copy of the Memorial Service program here.

Webcast Archive 1: 16 minutes
Welcome & Opening Prayer Terry Traylor
“In Christ Alone”
Psalm 84 Tremper Longman

Webcast Archive 2: 23 minutes
Reflections Rebeckah Groves, Warren Groves, Mike Kelly

Webcast Archive 3: 24 minutes
“Take My Life”
“We Sing Your Mercies”
Ephesians 3:14-21 Lauren Groves
Reflections Éowyn Groves, Bryan Groves, Ed Welch

Webcast Archive 4: 25 minutes

“Shout to the Lord”
Psalm 121:1-4 (in Hebrew) Pete Enns

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

Reflections Alden Groves, Doug Green, Alasdair Groves

Webcast Archive 5: 5 minutes
“O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing”

Webcast Archive 6: 20 minutes

Homily Sinclair Ferguson

Webcast Archive 7: 21 minutes

“Blessed Be Your Name”
“On Jordan’s Stormy Banks I Stand”
Closing Prayer Angelo Juliani

Worship Team Rick Winter (Worship Leader), Todd Bellinger, Kim Clement, Elaine Douds, Frank Horvath, Audrey Kress, Al Morris, Steve Ritter


Joy and Grief

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Reflections at 10:40 pm by Libbie

[The following reflections may be a bit hard to read without tears. I think it only fair to warn you of that ahead of time. This note is one that Al initially wrote last May, but we didn’t post it at the time for a number of reasons. Al thought of putting it on the blog in the late fall and so added a sentence of introduction at the beginning, but somehow we again hesitated. Maybe the emotions were too exposed, too tender, and we needed to check with the other people involved to see if they minded. I have done that now, and all have said that they are happy to have Al’s reflections shared. So here is a note that Al wrote about a very wonderful, very joyful and sad, and very special weekend last May.]

From Al:

Many ask how we are doing spiritually, in our hearts. This is a good question, perhaps the best question to ask us. To that end, here is something I wrote last spring but didn’t post at the time. It contains some reflections on the joys and griefs of a special weekend in May.

In May, Becky, my oldest daughter, came home for 36 hours in a weekend to be in the wedding of her dear friend, Lisa Welch. On the Friday before the wedding on Saturday I was admitted to the hospital with a very painful blood clot in my right leg. Because it would take at least three days in the hospital to be sure that the medication for thinning my blood was properly regulated, I would not be able to attend the wedding. Nor, as a result, would I see my daughter—I had been in either the emergency room or the hospital since she arrived and she had wedding related activities in the evening on Friday. She would have the wedding on Saturday and then catch a 7am flight Sunday. This was all disappointing to say the least. Read the rest of this entry »


First Day Back

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Updates at 8:44 pm by Libbie

Thank you for praying for Eowyn and Alden today. They both found that the first day back to school was hard but bearable. We are grateful for your support and for the Lord’s presence and help!



Update and Reflections 2.19.07

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Reflections, Updates at 10:32 pm by Libbie

Hello. We had a great time away last week, Tuesday through Thursday, and now we are gearing up for the kids to go back to school tomorrow (Tuesday, Feb 20). Likely enough that will be a bumpy experience, and this whole week may be something to just get through with the Lord’s help. They are not looking forward to it, but we’ve talked about things to anticipate, possible ways to handle certain situations, and that the Lord will be with them. If you think of praying for them tomorrow and the rest of this week, I know they would appreciate it! Read the rest of this entry »


Thank you

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Updates at 8:53 am by Libbie

Thank you to all of you who came to the service on Saturday, as well as to those who would have like to come but were not able to. and to all of you who joined us by webcast. Al absolutely loved people, and I know that each of you blessed him by your presence. Certainly you blessed us!

All last week we looked forward to Saturday’s memorial service. We knew that the burial would be both sad and joyful, but perhaps with sadness having the edge. As one of the kids said, “The focus of the burial is more on the physical body and the death part of dying, but the emphasis of the memorial service is more on the joy of heaven and the eternal life part of dying.” The burial service was wonderful, and contained the hope of the resurrection, but it was certainly also somber. The body that served Al so well–the feet that ran mile records and the hands that shot baskets, and wrote articles, and served us all so well–we committed to the earth with honor and dignity, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Read the rest of this entry »


A Letter Al Wrote for This Occasion

Posted in General at 5:43 pm by Karyn

This is the letter that was printed in the bulletin for the Memorial Service on Saturday.

program_cover.gifAs I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death, I have walked hand-in-hand with Jesus, the one who has already walked through that valley and come out the other side, alive, raised from the dead. And as I hold his hand and trust him, I too am raised with him, for this was his purpose in walking that path: to raise those who trusted in him. His rod and staff, his cross of suffering have become my comfort. Now as I have died, I come before the God, the king of the universe, and I come in Christ. He chose to suffer and die on the cross in my place, so that on account of him I might have forgiveness from sin and victory over death. And now I have received the resurrection and eternal life that has been my only hope, past, present and forever.

I have led a truly blessed life. At a young age, I realized that Jesus was not just a story in a comic book, but that he was real and I could actually know him. I wish I could describe to you what a powerful moment of understanding that was, and I have thought about it many times over the years, marveling over and over at the truth of this central fact. The Lord placed me into the perfect family where I was raised by loving parents with wonderful siblings. God gave me a wonderful wife who has been my joy as we have raised four wonderful children together. The Lord has given me the opportunity to be intimately involved in the lives of so many wonderful brothers and sisters, in our fellowship at college, as a pastor in Vermont, as an elder at New Life Church and as a professor at Westminster Seminary. Through family and ministry, I have had the privilege of loving and being loved by all of you, and I have been struck again and again by the deposit that each of you has left in my life. Read the rest of this entry »

One week later…

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Reflections, Updates at 9:13 am by Libbie

Dear Friends,
What a week it has been. A week ago we were watching the sun come up after a sleepless night, surprised that Al was still with us, although he had slipped into unresponsiveness, and wondering how much longer he would have to wait to go home.

It was hard to see him suffer. In some ways it was merciful that he was no longer conscious. The previous day he had been so thirsty, and we had only been partially able to quench his thirst, because it was hard for him to swallow, and more than a drop or two of water at a time tended to make him choke. For me, that was one of the hardest things in the whole process. So I think we were relieved that around 2 a.m. on Monday he passed beyond consciously feeling that thirst.

At about 10:00 Monday morning Al began to struggle to breathe. I had the impression from books or movies that when that characteristic breathing (what used to be called the “death rattle”) began, it was a matter of just a handful of minutes before the person passed away. But for Al it went on for ten and a half hours. We kept praying that the Lord would take Al home and end his suffering right away. And we kept waiting. We sang, we prayed, we talked, sometimes we laughed, and we waited. The hours rolled by, the nurse and others came and went, and still we waited. Read the rest of this entry »

More Photos

Posted in General at 9:00 am by Karyn


Hal Scanlin: “BHQ Editorial Committee members in Bad Urach, Germany, pictured left to right, Gerard Norton, Yohanan Goldman, Steve Pisano. Bob Bascom, Soetjianto, Hal Scanlin, Al Groves, Arie van der Kooij. Ray Dillard also attended a portion of the meeting to present his work on the book of Esther. Ray died several months later.”


Don Macha snapped this photo with his nokia cell phone camera: “At the New Life elders Christmas party this past December , Al began to share what God had taught him from Isaiah. Suddenly his weary face beamed as he shared the glory of the Messiah. Ron Lusk and I could only bask in the reflected light of the Savior Al loved so much!”


Tune In…

Posted in General at 9:04 am by Karyn

The family here in Philadelphia invites family and friends far and near to “tune in” with their internet connection to participate in the Memorial Service for Al.

Starting just prior to 2 PM (EST) we will begin streaming live from New Covenant Church in Philadelphia (the site of the Memorial Service). At that time (please wait until just before 2pm to connect), you can click on the link below and a new window will pop up with the webcast. If access gets overwhelmed and you are not able to connect, we will still make available the recording of the service later this week.

Memorial Service for Al Groves
Saturday, Feb 10, 2 PM (EST)
Live Streaming Webcast
Click Here

For best audio, move the slider to just behind the download feed. This will eliminate any “choppy” audio.

We will post a copy of the service bulletin as soon as we can (we are sorry that we did not have that in time for the service).

UPDATE NOTE: There were over 400 computers (many representing multiple people) accessing the webcast. We are so thankful that you were able to participate in remembering Al along with those in Philadelphia. An archive of the broadcast will be made available online later this week.


Memorial Service Live Webcast

Posted in General at 3:31 pm by Karyn

We have been able to successfully arrange for Al’s Memorial Service on Saturday to be available live on the internet for family and friends who are unable to attend the service in Philadelphia. The service begins at 2pm (EST) on Saturday, and we will begin live broadcasting just prior to that time. Please come back to the blog on Saturday at 2pm and use the link that will be in place to direct you to the live webcast. If you are unable to watch the live webcast we will be making an edited streaming version available as an archive later in the week.

To view the broadcast you should have Windows Media Player installed on your computer. If you do not already have the player, you can download it for free here.


Two Notes

Posted in From Al & Libbie, General, Updates at 7:31 am by Libbie

Here are two notes relative to the memorial service on Saturday, one for those who cannot come, and one for those who can:

If you cannot attend the service, experiments are underway to try to film it in such a way that you can watch it live on this blog site. If the technological wizards who know how to do such things succeed, that will be confirmed here so you will know ahead of time. Al was always fascinated by developments in technology, so we know he would get such a charge out of this.

If you are planning to come to the service, I thought I would let you know how the children and I are planning to dress. We will wear black because of the deep sorrow and terrible loss that death has dealt us. But we will also be wearing colorful clothes to celebrate the fact that death is defeated and Al is now enjoying Life, and health, and beauty and color that we can’t even imagine. You may feel free to wear strictly somber colors, if you prefer, or to join us in including splashes of bright colors of victory if you are comfortable doing so. We look forward to seeing you there!




Posted in From Al & Libbie, General, Reflections at 10:14 pm by Libbie

Here is the obituary that was sent to the Philadelphia paper. If they print it at all, they will probably shorten it, so I thought I’d just put it up here as well. [UPDATE NOTE: The Philadelphia Inquirer obituary is now online here.] If you are interested in an account of Al’s more academic life, there is one on the Westminster website.

James Alan Groves was born December 17, 1952 in Springfield, Missouri to James and Jacqueline Groves. He was later joined by brother Warren, sister Jill, and brother Bryan. Their family lived in Springfield, Missouri; Bartlesville and Cushing, Oklahoma; Mankato and Rochester Minnesota; and Aberdeen, South Dakota, where Al graduated from high school in 1971. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted in General at 12:16 pm by Karyn

If you have a photograph of Al and would like to share it (with a brief description of the photo), please email it here. We will format the photos and post as many as we can on the blog (so keep checking back to see new additions).

Linda Foh passes on this photo: “That famous dance team “Longman, Groves & Dillard”, representing the WTS O.T. Dept., entertained at Fun Night in November 1982.” (The infamous Tiqtol through the Tulips… or was it Yiqtol through the Tiqtols… but in any case, the rendition was surely better than even Tiny Tim‘s own forTiptoe through the Tulips.)

Joe Troutman sends this photo, “This was taken on 1/31/07 at Al and Libbie’s home. We enjoyed a wonderful visit, and Al, always the pastor, took the time to pray for Elisabeth, Jennifer and me.”

Joe & Bev Fitzpatrick: “This is a photo of the last time we saw Al in May. We were in town briefly, stopping by for a “quick” hello at 7pm and Al offered to help Joe with a
computer problem. Hours later, long after we felt we had worn out our welcome (with 3 kids along), Al continued to problem-solve with his wonderful patience and persistence.”

George Kong: “This is photo of our two families when the Groves visited us in Idaho during the summer of 2001.”
Read the rest of this entry »



Posted in From Al & Libbie, Updates at 7:01 pm by Libbie

If you are coming from out of town for Al’s memorial service and need a place to stay, our church family has some space available in their homes. Here is the info from the church: 

New Life Presbyterian Church of Glenside has rooms in people’s homes if you are coming from out of town and need a place to stay.  Please contact Peggy McManus at:  pmcmanus@cheltenham.org , or call her at:  215-885-7888 or 610-613-3643.  

There are also a few local hotels, and if you need assistance in contacting them, please call the New Life church office at 215-576-0892 between the hours of 9:00am to 3:30pm to receive a listing of near-by hotels.


Posted in General at 3:01 pm by Karyn

A memorial service will be held Saturday, February 10 at 2:00 pm at New Covenant Church of Philadelphia, 7500 Germantown Avenue. A reception at the church will immediately follow the service. Click here for directions. All are welcome to attend.

Gifts in memory of Al may be made to Westminster Theological Seminary, with “Needy Student Fund” indicated on the memo line. Box 27009 Philadelphia, PA 19118.

Westminster Theological Seminary has a memorial page here.



Posted in From Al & Libbie, Updates at 10:16 pm by Libbie

Al is home with Jesus, safely through the Valley of the Shadow, and he has woken up in the glorious sunshine of heaven, face to face with the savior he has loved for 44 years. We are so glad!!

Al slipped mostly out of consciousness during the night, maybe around 2 a.m., and starting around 10 this morning he began struggling to breathe. We thought that meant that he would pass away soon, but he remained with us for ten more hours, laboring to breathe all that time. We kept talking to him, singing, reading Scripture, praying, touching him, and visiting around his bedside, occasionally laughing–even uproariously on two occasions. He was there in the midst of us, very much a part of us, even when he was to all appearances unresponsive. They say that people in that state can hear what is being said, so we kept including him in our conversations. We kept telling him how much we loved him and were thankful for him, and we kept telling him how thankful (and even envious) we were that he would soon be seeing Jesus face to face. Sometimes we laughed, sometimes we cried, and often we sang songs of worship.

Our hope from the beginning was that we could all be there at the moment that Al actually died, but after a mostly sleepless night last night we realized that we would need to sleep tonight and that probably we would not all be awake when it happened. That was okay, because we had had so much wonderful time with him in the past several days. Each of us let go of that expectation with peace.

Yet the Lord graciously arranged it so that in fact we were all there in the room with him when he died. Some of us got there only a few seconds before, but we were all there. Al simply took his last breath, his heart slowed down, and he was gone. We cheered, we cried, we hugged each other, we practically literally danced with joy at the sure knowledge that Al was free–from pain, from exhaustion, from labored breathing, from the fibromyalgia that has pummeled him for years and years, from cancer, and from death itself. There just weren’t enough ways to express the joy we felt. The best we could do was sing with every bit of gusto in our souls the song “On Jordan’s Stormy Banks I Stand.”

On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand,
and cast a wishful eye
To Canaan’s fair and happy land,
where my possessions lie.

I am bound for the promised land,
I am bound for the promised land;
Oh, who will come and go with me?
I am bound for the promised land.

O’er all those wide extended plains
shines one eternal day;
There God the Son forever reigns,
and scatters night away.

I am bound for the promised land,
I am bound for the promised land;
Oh, who will come and go with me?
I am bound for the promised land.

No chilling winds or poisonous breath
can reach that healthful shore;
Sickness and sorrow, pain and death,
are felt and feared no more.

I am bound for the promised land,
I am bound for the promised land;
Oh, who will come and go with me?
I am bound for the promised land.

When I shall reach that happy place,
I’ll be forever blest,
For I shall see my Father’s face,
and in his bosom rest.

I am bound for the promised land,
I am bound for the promised land;
Oh, who will come and go with me?
I am bound for the promised land.

What a celebration! No doubt the sadness will set in, perhaps tomorrow, but for tonight we can feel only joy, intense and exhilarating. And relief. We have all been walking around since heaving sigh after sigh of relief and feeling the tension, and concern, and adrenaline drain out of our bodies.

Since we had been praying over and over for two days that God would come and take Al home and waiting and waiting for him to answer that prayer, we yearned for that release and homecoming more than anything. So when it finally happened, there was nothing left to feel but joy–no regret, no wising for more time, no vestiges of wanting to hang on. Perhaps that was God’s gift to us in making us wait. His timing is perfect.

I have to go, as there is still lots to do, but I wanted to let you know that the Lord’s faithful servant is home at last in his Father’s house. Hallelujah! Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice!


Still awaiting take-off

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Updates at 7:27 am by Libbie

Al is still with us this morning, for how long we don’t know. We will let you know here on the blog when the Lord has come to take him home. Meanwhile, we’re surrounding him, singing, praying, talking to him, worshiping. It’s a precious time.

We appreciate your prayers for strength on little or no sleep,


Still Here

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Updates at 12:04 am by Libbie

Al is still with us. Just wanted you to know.

It’s like waiting at the airport with someone who is about to embark on a fantastic trip…


A Matter of Hours…

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Updates at 4:19 pm by Libbie

A hospice nurse was here today and thinks that perhaps Al will pass away in the next little while, maybe tonight, or this afternoon, or tomorrow.

We are having good times of worship around his bed. What an amazing thing to be just hours away from heaven! We can almost taste it for Al.

Will keep you posted.


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