In Memoriam: Rev. Frank Sawyer

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Frank Sawyer, 68, a scholar with an amazing zest for life, died shortly after he was diagnosed with cancer. He was a Renaissance man in the true sense of the word: theologian, philosopher, linguist, writer, poet, and social critic.

Sawyer was born in Victoria, British Columbia. He enrolled at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., in 1967 and graduated in 1971 with a major in philosophy. Having become acquainted with the Reformed vision represented in Dutch writings, he decided to study theology in the Netherlands. He enrolled at Theological University of the Reformed Churches in Kampen and completed his doctoral studies in 1977. Having fully mastered the language, he was asked to serve the Reformed Church of Zoetermeer. In l980 he took a two-year leave of absence to complete his doctoral dissertation, a study of the motivation of Christian organizations in Canada.

In 1982 Sawyer started ministry with Christian Reformed World Missions (CRWM) in Puerto Rico and Honduras. The poverty he saw in Central America prompted him to make a thorough study of its causes, and he devoted another doctoral thesis to this subject.

Though he was fluent in Spanish and had hoped to stay in Honduras, in 1992 CRWM sent the Sawyers to Hungary. Sawyer took courses at the University of Debrecen, which awarded him another Ph.D. in 2002. The title of his thesis was “Philosophical Perspectives in Dialogue with Theology from Kant’s Idealism to Nietzsche’s Nihilism.” Under Hungarian law, this qualified him to teach at Hungarian universities.

Sawyer was appointed a professor at the Reformed Theological Seminary of Sarospatak. He was widely sought after as a lecturer in Ukraine, Romania, and Slovakia. Much of his concern centered on justice and relief for the poor and stewardship of God;s creation. Throughout his career, Sawyer wrote books and articles.

Sawyer will be remembered for his love of life, his sense of humor, his compassion for people who are disadvantaged, his profound interest in human interactions, his understanding of God’s intention for humanity, his desire to reorder society in keeping with God's purposes for creation, and his love for mountains. He loved painting and fishing.

Sawyer is survived by his wife, Aria, their children Erik and Margreet, Aria and Basha, Krista and Gerrit Jan, Ineka and Damoun, and four grandchildren.

About the Author

Louis Tamminga is the Banner's writer of In Memoriams for pastors.

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