Cornerstone University News

Iconic Leader of GRTS Passes On

With deep sadness Cornerstone University and Grand Rapids Theological Seminary announce the death of a beloved professor and administrator, Dr. James Murray Grier, on January 9, 2013.

“Grand Rapids Theological Seminary would not be the school it is today without the excellent leadership of Dr. James Murray Grier,” said Dr. John VerBerkmoes, vice president and academic dean of GRTS. “During his 16 years of service as vice president and academic dean, Dr. Grier built an outstanding faculty and enhanced the breadth and rigor of the curriculum. He is greatly respected for his service and contribution.”

Dr. Grier, 80, served as vice president, academic dean and professor of philosophical theology at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary from 1982-1998. After his retirement in 1998 he served as a distinguished professor at GRTS until his death.

In his 16 years at GRTS, Dr. Grier led the seminary to its strongest enrollment in the master of divinity program, laid the foundation for membership with The Association of Theology Schools  and was instrumental in the ministry of Asia Biblical Theological Seminary , a sister seminary of GRTS.

Dr. Grier made important contributions to the West Michigan community by serving as one of the founding board members at Home of Hope (Christian Hospice) and through his work as a consulting ethicist on the Spectrum Health Ethics Committee. 

As a respected theologian, Dr. Grier had the privilege of serving as visiting professor at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London where he delivered several special lecture series and considered it a privilege to preach from Charles Spurgeon’s pulpit.

A native of Staten Island, N.Y., Dr. Grier preached his first sermon at his father’s church, South Baptist Church of Tottenville in Staten Island, and gave his last sermon at the same location just a few months ago.

After earning his master of theology from Westminster Theological Seminary and his doctorate from Grace Theological Seminary in theology he pastored churches before serving as associate professor of philosophy at Cedarville University from 1969 to 1982. 

Dr. Grier is survived by his wife, Shirley, of 58 years and their son, Dr. Kevin Grier, and daughter-in-law, Dr. Robin Grier.

“Jim Grier has been a friend and mentor since my early years as a church planter,” said  Dr. Joseph Stowell, president of Cornerstone University and Grand Rapids Theological Seminary.  “ His keen mind, amazing theological depth, unusual capacity to bring life changing application were all coupled with a good sense of humor and a caring spirit for others.  Jim and his wife Shirley were a special gift to the body of Christ. We have lost a Christ-like leader and friend.”