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.




Posted in From Al & Libbie, Updates at 12:57 pm by Libbie

Al’s strength is quickly declining. On Wenesday the hospice nurse guestimated that he might last 5-6 weeks. Yesterday, as we expected, she said that the time is probably much shorter than that. For myself, I’m expecting him to slip out of consciousness any time in the next hours or days.

It’s hard to see Al so weak and sometimes uncomfortable. As his condition has worsened drastically in the past week, we have begun to make the shift in our thinking and praying from asking the Lord to prolong Al’s time with us to asking him to shorten it. It will be a mercy to see him free from this suffering and winging his way to heaven. Read the rest of this entry »


A Better Day

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Updates at 9:37 pm by Libbie

Again, this will be brief. Wanted to let you know that today was better than yesterday. We got some stronger anti-nausea medicine that seemed to curb that problem, and feeling less nauseous helped reduce the pain as well. Hallelujah!

Al is very weak, and we’ve see a little disorientation in the last 24 hours too, but he is still himself, if slightly fuzzy. It’s made for some good laughs that he has been able to join in on.

Off to bed. Bless you all, and thank you for so many kind and encouraging notes. Sorry I’m not writing back…



Long Day

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Updates at 10:23 pm by Libbie

This will be brief, because I need to get to bed a.s.a.p.

Today was a hard one for Al. He is experiencing constant pain and nausea. The hospice team is working competently and professionally to determine the right medicines to help bring both under control, and I’m sure they will be able to do that, but during the process it’s hard to see Al suffering so.

Just wanted to let you know. Thanks for your concern and prayers–



Posted in From Al & Libbie, Reflections, Updates at 6:17 pm by Libbie

Hello again after a few days.

The kids are feeling much better and are back in school now after both of them being home sick on Friday and then lying low over the weekend. Alasdair’s bronchitis, which was, as usual, pretty bad, is on the mend in time for the start of the semester on Thursday. And so far neither Al nor I have caught any of the above. Thank the Lord for that! Becky has had more car troubles, but our mechanic has again gone above and beyond the call of duty to help us out and keep her on the road. If anybody in the Philly area needs a mechanic, call us for his name–he’s amazing! Read the rest of this entry »


Listen in…

Posted in General at 3:37 pm by Karyn

Psalm 138 reminds us to bow humbly with King David and “all the kings of the earth” before the Lord’s holy temple and give thanks for his steadfast love and faithfulness. You can listen to Al as he meditates on these words in a Westminster Theological Seminary chapel address delivered last winter:

Reflections on Psalm 138 by Al Groves


From the sick ward…

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Reflections, Updates at 3:18 pm by Libbie

Well, today Alden is finally well enough to be back in school (hopefully, since he’s feeling neither terrific nor strong), but last night Eowyn woke up in the middle of the night with chills and fever, so she’s home today. (And coincidentally Alasdair has developed bronchitis.) Please pray that Al will not catch any of the germs in this hive of sickness!

Al felt a little better yesterday than the day before, it seemed to me, which was great. Today he’s pooped and not feeling great. He is increasingly unsteady on his feet and lacking in any kind of energy, and typing is becoming extremely difficult. But he’s a tough old guy, and he keeps on truckin’, if you’ll pardon a 70’s expression. Read the rest of this entry »


“A little too fast, and in the wrong direction…”

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Updates at 3:48 pm by Libbie

(That’s a quote from a version of the Pinnochio story that my older sister Louise and I grew up on. She and I used to quote it a lot, and I still think of it often, although I never say it because no one else remembers it–which makes me miss her. Anyway, it seemed a propos for this situation.)

Al is feeling distinctly less well than he was a week ago. He is experiencing extreme fatigue, significantly compromised coordination and balance, and a great deal of abdominal pain. Whether or not his fall (see 1/18/07) directly contributed to the latter is unclear, but he is very uncomfortable. Read the rest of this entry »


More of God’s protection…

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Updates at 3:53 pm by Libbie

Yesteday the Lord protected Al from being run over in the middle of Limekiln Pike (see entry below if that is news to you). Today Becky hit a patch of ice on the way to work, banged into the curb and broke a tie rod on her car. But thankfully she was going very slowly, and thankfully she slid to the right, not the left, so she didn’t hit any other cars. The mechanic said that as such accidents go, the damage was about as minimal as possible. Another example of God’s protection as he watches over us. Thank you, Lord!

Al’s parents are on their way here from Florida for a visit, and tomorrow one of our nephews will also join us from California. Looking forward to a great weekend. Too bad the unseasonably warm weather left before their arrival…

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