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A vehicle for venting on philosophy, religion, and the general state of things. Proprietor: C. W. Powell

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

I have this week lost one of my dearest and best friends, the Rev. Dorman Savage, who lost his battle to cancer. It was a glorious homecoming for Rev. Savage. His family, including my son Sam, who married Susan Savage, was around him and watched with him for the last days, and he was a wonderful witness to question one of the Heidelberg Catechsim, that in life and in death "I belong to my faithful Savior, jesus Christ."

When my twin sons were born in June of 1966, my wife and I agreed to name them after two of our best friends in the ministry, and so Joseph Jefferson Powell was named after the Reverend Jefferson G. Duckett and Dorman James Powell was named after the Reverend Dorman Savage. It doesn't seem possible that thirty-seven years have passed since that day. Rev. Duckett passed away a few years ago; Tuesday of this week, the Lord took Rev. Savage.

Reverend Savage was a dear friend who always encouraged me in the ministry. In many ways our stories are similar. He grew up in Western Colorado; I in Southern Oregon. He came to Bob Jones University when I was in graduate school there, and we were passing acquantances.

After graduation he became youth director of First Baptist Church in Anderson, California and married Kay Gibbons, one of the girls in the congregation. Gene Sawtelle, also of Anderson, who also met Dorman at Bob Jones, came home and married Sharon Gibbons, the sister of Kay.

At this time, I was holding Bible classes in my parents home in Southern Oregon, trying to get a Baptist Church going. Dorman and Kay showed up one Sunday evening to go to church. They were on their honeymoon. We had a great time of fellowship that evening, and after his honeymoon, Dorman returned to Anderson. At that time the First Baptist church was exploring ways of starting a Christian school and Dorman recommended to Pastor Bill Bowman that they explore the possibility of inviting me to come to Anderson to head up the school. So a few weeks after this I received a call from Pastor Bowman. I did not know it at the time, of course, but that visit by Dorman and Kay would lead by God's good and gracious providence to my acceptance of Reformed Theology and becoming a minister of the RCUS.

AFter one year in Anderson, I married Penny Simer of Rogue River, Oregon, and , in the summer of 1962, visited Dorman for a week of evangelistic meetings in Canon City, Colo., where he was pastor of a Baptist Church. Penny and I returned to Anderson to find Bill Bowman had been fired as pastor of the First Baptist Church, and the Rev. J. G. Duckett of Tumwater, Washingtin, had been installed as pastor. It was a most fruitful relationship, for Pastor Duckett built upon the foundation of Calvinism that been laid in my mind at Bob Jones by the study of Charles Hodge and others. During the next two or three years, all of us, Pastor Duckett, Rev. Gene Sawtelle, who was then pastoring a Baptist church in Hayden, Colorado, Rev. Sawtelle, and myself, through a study of the puritans and the great stalwarts of the Reformed Faith, Calvin, Warfield, Hodge, Van Til, Rushdoony and the Puritans like Manton and Boston and others, became convinced that Reformed theology was the best expression of the doctrine of Scripture and in 1968, Duckett, Sawtelle, and I entered the ministry of the Reformed Church in the U. S. Savage was to follow later. A year or so earlier, the brother of Kay and Sharon, Roger Gibbons, also entered the ministry of the RCUS.

Someone has said that "old things are best." That is certainly true of friendships Certainly, Rev Duckett and Rev. Savage are better for they are with the Lord and no longer plagued with sin. Only Rev. Sawtelle and I are left of that foursome. I have never regretted my commitment to Reformed theology and the exceedingly rich theological benefit I have received from my association with the RCUS. I have done twenty million things that I regret--I am glad I don't have to repent of them one by one--but I have never looked back from that decision to embrace the Reformed faith, for it has enriched me in my soul beyond my powers to describe.

Together, we came to see that Baptist government would not endure the stress of Reformed Theology, that the ecclesiology of the Bible is inspired as well as the soteriology.

Rev. Dorman Savage will be laid to rest after services at the United Methodist Church in Limon. None of our RCUS churches will be able to hold the people from the Front Range and the RCUS who will be there. It will be a bittersweet day for me. I will greatly miss my good friend, but I know that he is with the Lord, that his labors are over, that the physical suffering that he knew in the body is past. He would not come back, I know, for He is present with the Lord. Mine are not over. Sawtelle and I have not yet finished our work or our testimony. I pray God that my homegoing will be as fine a witness of the Lord's grace and mercy as the departure of both my friends, Duckett and Savage.

My only comfot in life and in death is that I, with body and soul, both in life and in death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ, who with His precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins, and redeemed me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, that all things must work together for my salvation. Wherefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live unto Him. [Heidelberg Catechism 1]

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