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Today we learnt of the sad passing of our beloved Seminary President, Rev Dr Ross Olivier. It would appear that the grief I felt in my heart over the past week was even bigger than I could ever have imagined.

We knew Ross was ill. We knew he was struggling to get well again, but we didn’t fully appreciate just how much he was struggling.

Last night before bed the pain in my heart was back and so I got on my knees next to the bed and I asked for help. I asked for understanding. I asked for guidance.

This verse came to mind – ‘I am the vine, you are the branches.’ (John 15)

‘I am the source…’

‘…Of life, of love, of understanding – you are an extension of me’.

It gave me a measure of peace.

And then this news today…

Ross died this morning.

‘I am the vine. I am the source.’

God ran through Ross as Ross’s source, God runs through the life of this seminary via Ross’s heart and love and service – there are many of us today who stand as the fruit of Ross’s labour of love, as he so faithfully served his God.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You, Ross, are my friend. I no longer call you servant, because a servant does not know his masters business. Instead I call you friend, for everything that I learned from my father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, I chose you and appointed YOU to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last … (John 15:13 – 16)

Ross Olivier, we are your fruit and the Seminary will last because of your legacy – you asked us at the beginning of the year to let our lights shine and today I say back, your light will shine in each of the lives that you have touched and there are many. Thank you for being light and life and love and understanding for so many people.

Thank you for your heart.

We wish you peace, we wish you rest and we say goodbye with hearts heavy with grief.

You are loved, your family is loved.

We will miss you ‘good and faithful friend’.