- MAURICE RUPERT FORD:
Words by pastor, Rev. Joseph McDermott
BEVERLEY STREET BAPTIST CHURCH
- September 29th 1967 - TORONTO
|Our colored brethren have
an interesting custom at funerals - they read an obituary
of the deceased.
I am adopting that custom today.
Then Dr. Dunn wishes to speak a few words of comfort to us.
Mr. Ford's interest was in mission work. He attended Beverley Street Baptist Church. His family attended Walmer Road Baptist Church of which Dr. Dunn is pastor.
|We are laying away today a great
Perhaps not as the world rates greatness. Wealth, fame or empire building. But Mr. Ford was great in a truly Christian sense. He delighted to bring happiness to his fellow men.
To understand this type of greatness you must see a picture.
A small boy stood bereft through death of all his relatives. Fordie, as he liked to be called stood alone in the heart of London England. He had no living relatives to which to turn.
He could have become a London street urchin. Seventy years ago the streets of London were over-run by countless homeless boys who searched for food stealing from fruit stalls and sleeping in boxes and halls.
In those days there were no highly developed social agencies to care for the unfortunate that we have now. There was a medical doctor with a few volunteers who sought to help these homeless boys. They were watchful to find the homeless boy before he became a street urchin. This group clothed and fed the boys for a time then as a measure of self-help they placed some of the boys on Canadian farms as chore boys. For more in Dr. Bernardo see below.
Many of the boys placed by the English group did not fare too well. Surprisingly, the Canadian Farmer, gratified to get the cheap labour, seemed to be hostile and harsh. Often the boys were abused, slept in outhouses and worked too hard. Yet on growing to manhood they reached a high place In Canadian life. I know at least five Baptist ministers who came in this way to Canada as boys.
Yet Fordie escaped this fate again. Fordie was befriended by the medical doctor, and his group placed Fordie, as a self-help plan, with a fine Christian Canadian farmer. No doubt Fordies agreeable and willing helpfulness gave him the advantage. The Canadian farmer to whom Fordie was sent was a kindly man. He eventually adopted Fordie as his own son. Fordie now has a new father, mother and several brothers and sisters. He loved that farm home greatly. He adored his new Mother and spoke of her in most appreciative terms always. That farm meant much to Fordie. All through his life when he desired a quiet holiday he would return to his farm home.
In this farm home, church and Sunday School was a must. Fordie found a joy and outlet in the church. Here he discovered that he could sing. His great delight was to give pleasure to people by singing the grand old hymns. It was in the rural church that Fordie began his ministry of song. He had a remarkable voice with a true feeling for the song. Later his singing meant as much in a service as the sermon. A deacon said to me, "When Fordie sings my faith is so great I can feel God is near.
Fordie never thought of his singing as a ministry. He liked to sing and his singing made people happy. Throughout his life in Western Canada and in Toronto, Fordie was very interested in Church choirs and patriotic singing.
In the first world war. Fordie served his country and sang for his soldier comrades.
I took a picture out of a frame one day and behind the picture was another picture of Fordie in a Lieutenant's uniform. I said to him, "I know you were in the war but you never mentioned that you were an officer." Fordie said, "I enlisted as a private and they made me a lieutenant. It happened one day at gunnery practice. I had never shot a gun in my life but I would point the gun and it would hit the target. It was something to do with my eyes I guess. They placed me in the gunnery school as an Instructor. All the Instructors were lieutenants so they made me one.
That was Fordie. He thought things just happened to him. Never did he claim merit, for his fortunate advancement. So it was in his singing. He just loved to sing and he sang. He could have commercialized his singing. cut a few records or entered the professional entertaining field. He would have been a financial success. No, he reserved his singing for the church and his singing made people happy.
Fordies attitude of helpfulness was also seen in his daily work. He had such capacities as an organizer that he could do well in business. But here again, not money or advancement swayed him; he would rather be helpful. He worked daily yet he taught Bible classes and acted as soloist in choirs. This, to him, was as important as his daily work. Though Fordie could never be accused of being a visionary he was always the practical man.
For a time Fordie worked as a Y.M.C.A. secretary. He found a subtle pleasure in this work. He was helping young men. The pleasure came perhaps because unconsciously he was repaying those who had helped him.
Next Fordie was a director of a home for homeless boys, conducting the daily routine of over 80 boys. Again, we find him supplying the need where the need was greatest.
In Toronto Fordie left a prosperous church to assist in a downtown mission church. In the mission the need was greater. He brought his gifts and music to those who had little.
Fordie brought leadership and music to this mission for 32 years. He held many offices and chaired many committees. His chief contribution was that he brought music to the mission. The singer and his songs, his ministry of music was a great contribution to the lives of those who attended the mission. They waited eagerly to hear his song. They gladly placed themselves under his tutorship that they might sing in his choirs.
Fordie was superintendent of the Sunday School for many years. The attendance reached its peak when Fordie lead the school. The children loved him and he loved the children. Fordie was always the first at the church with a well-planned programme for his part. As one said, "Fordie always knows what he is going to do, and how he will do it, be it meeting, an entertainment or a song."
Fordie will long be remembered for his social and parties. Everyone had a good time. He enjoyed parties, and liked to see others enjoying themselves. Fordies parties were always a great success.
We at Beverley are indebted to Fordie for the 32 years he enriched the life of our church and brought a glow to our mission work. We are also conscious of the fact that Fordie, in spending so much time at the mission, was depriving his family of his presence. Here we give a word of appreciation to Fordies family, for our gain wsr their loss. Yet as Fordie would feel, give happiness where the need is greatest and in sharing, our blessings are multiplied. I would not be remise in saying "thank you" to Fordies family for their sharing with us a fine mans gifts.
||Fordies daily work was
with the SKF Ball Bearing Company. He worked here for
many years. Now in his daily work he was just as outgoing
in helping others as he was in his church work.
I asked Fordie once what kind of work he did. He said, "Well I have just been transferred from the accounting office to the personnel department." Again, one of the things that just happened to Fordie. Instead of accounting costs, directing industrial operations or selling the product, he is in the personnel department. He visits the sick employee in the home and in hospital. He organizes banquets, summer picnics and get-togethers for the employees and staff. He said, "It is my job to look after the welfare of the employees and keep them happy. When they are happy they do a better job for the firm."
Fordies employers recognized his gifts. He delighted to make people happy. His firm gave him a free hand to follow his bent.
Surely the man was great. If we try and sum up Fordies life and worker we will find his attitude in the words of his favorite hymn which was once a class song of the Bible Class he taught.
calls us o'er the tumults,
calls us from the worship,
Read at the funeral of
Maurice R. Ford.