Grover Cleveland Wright, 80, son of an Alabama sharecropper, was a railroad porter for 24 years before becoming a lay associate and recruiter of full-time church workers in the former Lutheran Church in America. He died in Philadelphia Feb. 3, one day after a celebration in his honor.
Wright became Lutheran after his son attended a day camp at Christ Lutheran Church, Philadelphia. In 1968, against the advice of friends, Wright quit his railroad job to be a full-time lay associate, working as a bridge between the church and the community and directing Christ Lutheran Church Parish House. In 1972 he joined the staff of the LCA Divison for Professional Leadership with a special focus on developing minority leadership and academic advancement in LCA institutions.
"Those were the good days," Wright once said. "We saw the light dawning." He later admitted being disappointed that more church resources were not available for minority congregations and leadership development.
After retiring in 1981, he remained active in urban housing concerns, serving as president of the Black Lutheran Community Development Corporation in Philadelphia. In 1994 he was honored by the Luther Institute with the Wittenberg Award. He is survived by his wife, Irma, two children and five grandchildren.
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers