This tribute was written by Bishop Ough for Rev. Grace E. Huck's memorial service held on September 24, 2018 at Spearfish United Methodist Church. It was read at the service by Rev. Kevin Kloster, Southwest District Superintendent.
On behalf of a grateful Dakotas Conference, I extend my deepest sympathy to Grace’s family, friends and members of the Spearfish congregation who mourn this day. I pray that in the midst of the pain of letting go, you are able to embrace that Grace’s desire to go home to the Lord has been fulfilled. Today, we are blessed to join the heavenly celebration!
Grace Huck was an icon. Within the Orthodox branches of the Christian faith, an icon is a window or doorway into the very heart of God. Every time I was privileged to visit with Grace, I left knowing I had seen and experienced some eternal truth, some aspect of God in Christ. Surely, many gathered today can testify to the same experience. I saw in her a complete dependence on God for guidance, strength and provision. She was a window into God’s faithfulness and goodness. She was living, breathing proof of our need for and the power of prayer – even when she was telling God what to do!
Grace Huck was an apostle. Very early in her calling from God, Grace made the journey from being a disciplined, obedient disciple of Jesus to being an apostle of the Good News. She embraced being sent, whether that was to the people of Faith, South Dakota, or the people of the Philippines, or the people who attended to her needs in the care center. Grace was a missionary. She viewed everyone she encountered as a God-given opportunity to share the love of God and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. And, she did so with passion, conviction and on many occasions, with bluntness. At least, and maybe only with me, her concern for my well-being and witness could quickly flow into a lecture on how I should be living and leading! Yet, somehow it always ended up being the Word of the Lord for me.
Grace Huck was a pioneer. Pioneers are characterized by persistence, unwavering focus, clarity of purpose, a love of justice, a relentless patience – a righteous stubbornness, if you will. Grace was a pioneer for clergywomen when ordained an elder in the North Dakota Conference in 1949. She was a pioneer when, two years later, she became only the second woman in the Methodist Church to become a full clergy member. She was a pioneer when she earned a Master’s in Education degree from North Dakota Agricultural College (NDSU). She was a pioneer when she became the Academic Dean of Harris Memorial College in Manilla.
Grace probably did not set out to be a pioneer in the Methodist movement; but she would not – could not – be deterred from responding to God’s call on her life. In her autobiography, God’s Amazing Grace, Grace writes of her own journey: “I am continually aware of Paul’s words, ‘I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision’ (Acts 26:19) as I was struggling to be faithful to my call to the ordained ministry in the church at a time when women were not yet permitted to be fully recognized ministers.” Perhaps, nothing better or nothing more, and certainly nothing less, can be said about
Rev. Grace E. Huck – she was “not disobedient to the heavenly vision.” Throughout her 102 years of earthly life, she possessed a deep and unshakeable faith. Throughout her struggle to have her call fully recognized, she gave herself completely to Christ and the Church. Throughout her ministry, she loved all of God’s people and was in solidarity with the poor and forgotten. Throughout her journey, she remained faithful, apostolic, fruitful and prayerful. Throughout her life, she demonstrated that a passion for God’s mission overcomes all difficulties and barriers. Indeed, Rev. Grace Huck was not disobedient to the heavenly vision! Thanks be to God for the iconic life and witness of Grace E. Huck!
Grace wanted to live to 100 and then quickly go home to the Lord. We do not know why it took two more years for Jesus to prepare a place for Grace and then come to take her to himself. But, what we do know is that there is now rejoicing in heaven as she takes her place among the communion of saints. And, so our resurrection joy is also complete this day as we affirm “well done good and faithful servant!” Thank you, Grace, for your unwavering obedience to the heavenly vision.
With deepest respect and love,
Bishop Bruce R. Ough