A Tribute To The Late Ormer G. C. Sprunt

A Tribute To The Late
Ormer G. C. Sprunt

James Gunn

How pleased we all were that the original sponsor of Food for the Flock, Ormer G. C. Sprunt, was with us at the Annual Meeting (Nov. 6, 1977). He was then anticipating January 5, 1978, his ninetieth birthday. Since Canadian Thanksgiving, November 11, 1954, he had not missed an Annual Meeting of the Corporation. In fact, the early meetings were held in his own home.

A premonition settled upon some of us; we felt that he was present for the last time. As we sought to honour him and do the necessary business in deference of him, he said little but frequently smiled in appreciation. Obviously he was pleased that in spite of many difficulties, the magazine now called Focus, was making an excellent contribution to the assembly life and testimony of God’s people.

Seventy years is a long time in the life of any man. It is approximately that amount of time since I first met brother Sprunt. He and Mrs. Sprunt were at a Sunday School picnic of the Swanick Avenue Assembly, Toronto, Ontario, about 1909. They carried in their arms their son Ted, now living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. How was I, merely a little boy, to know then that in after years we were to serve the Lord together in the field of Christian literature.

A few years previous to the Sunday School picnic, actually in 1907, Ormer Sprunt was invited by friends to attend an evangelistic service in the old, original Swanick Avenue Gospel Hall (the Danforth Assembly of today). Although morally doing the best he could, under the preaching of the Word of God he realized his sinnership before God and accepted Christ as his Saviour.

From the very beginning of his Christian career, he manifested a keen interest in spiritual activities and developments. He sought to practice what he read in the Holy Scriptures. His Christian life of over 70 years is an example before younger believers. Would to God that he might raise up others of the same moral stamina and consistent testimony.

In April 1908 he was married to Luella Guest, a member of the small Swanick Assembly. His interests in spiritual matters were also her interests. Together they sought to honour the Lord in the home that they had established, a very hospitable home. In later years it was for many of the Lord’s servants, in their itinerant ministry, a home away from home. In this regard Mr. and Mrs. Sprunt were succourers of myself also.

When they moved to the west side of Toronto, brother Sprunt became the superintendent of first, the Central Sunday School, and eventually of the Brock Sunday School. During more recent years there were with him in Bethany Lodge some who had been scholars in his Sunday School Class. On numerous happy occasions it was delightful to listen to the good humoured banter between the former teacher and scholar.

In the middle of the 1940’s our beloved colleague owned and managed a Christian Book Store in the City of Toronto, Canada. It was during those years that we began to work closely together in the writing and publishing of evangelistic tracts and booklets. It was also about that time that he felt that there should be non-partisan literature for distribution among Christians. With this in mind, he invited the present writer to become the editor of a monthly magazine. Almost ten years elapsed before the first copy of Food for the Flock appeared among the Lord’s people. Then, as now the publication was dedicated to the encouraging of faith in the Word of God, to the providing of practical teaching on all aspects of the Christian life, to the expounding of the Word of God in order to stimulate a deeper searching of the Holy Scriptures, and of course to the motivating of a closer walk with God.

Brother Sprunt had a mind and heart open for the Word of God. He enjoyed when it was ministered in the power of the Holy Spirit. Consequently, as an elder among the saints, he helped in making wise arrangements for the Toronto Conference, west side. He personally attended more than 70 of these annual conferences.

During the more recent years which were spent at Bethany Lodge, he managed from its inception the small Book Shop. This little outlet was operated by the Lodge, but with his experience there was no one so capable as he to stock it with genuinely good Biblical literature of all kinds: books, cards, tracts, etc.

As Christmas 1977 approached he stated that he was going to withdraw from the shop. This he did just after the New Year. Perhaps he felt that the call up yonder was near, but for almost three months he had to wait. As the weeks passed, his extreme physical weakness kept him in bed most of the time and deprived us of his warm fellowship. With him “the spirit indeed was willing but the flesh was weak.” He had always been active. His mind remained alert and this made it the more difficult for his friends to watch him gradually becoming daily weaker. On one occasion as we greeted him, he replied, “Yes, I am still here, but I wish that I were up there.”

Enid, his only daughter (Mrs. Harry Hafner, Philadelphia) came and stayed with him for several days. How he enjoyed her company. He even seemed to perk up during those days that she was present, but in spite of this his strength constantly decreased. On March 19, 1978, the summons for which he had been waiting and longing came and he passed “into the light” of the Divine Presence.

The funeral was conducted in Rexdale Assembly Hall. Mr. A. M. S. Gooding, Kilmarnock, Scotland, a personal friend of Mr. Sprunt, on a visit to Canada, shared the services with Mr. Ross Philips. The commital at the grave side was directed by George Heidman, Fredericton, New Brunswick.

A poem by his son Ernest, a much beloved minister of the Word for many years, who predeceased his father, seems very appropriate here:

* * *

This Is Not Death

This is not death!
For pilgrim through a stranger land,
Who leaves the burning desert’s sand,
To dwell within his promised land,
This is not death, but life!

This is not death!
For one whose journey now is o’er,
Who steps at last on Heaven’s shore,
To be at home for evermore,
This is not death, but life!

This is not death!
For by our God’s own matchless grace
A loved one now is in that place
Where he beholds the Saviour’s face,
This is not death, but life!

This is not death!
Then let us dry each falling tear,
And banish every doubt and fear;
Our Lord’s return is very near!
Then no more death, but life!