The Rev. Dr. Grant Shah Chi Lee died in Honolulu July 28, 2020 at age 75
April 27, 1945 – July 28, 2020
Grant was known by many in and outside of Hawai’i as a kind and supportive friend, ministry visionary, and a humble servant-leader who sought to draw forth the best from others. Born in Honolulu April 27, 1945, Grant was the eldest born to Harry Gee Kai and En Jin Lee. Grant graduated from Kaimuki High School, Westmont College, Fuller Theological Seminary (Master of Divinity), and San Francisco Theological Seminary (Doctor of Ministry).
Grant’s lifelong response to God’s call to Christian ministry took root in his teen years at the First Chinese Church of Christ in Hawai’i. It was fulfilled in pastoring three churches—Nu’uanu Congregational Church, Pearl City Community Church and Waialua United Church of Christ. He also served 11 years as Associate Conference Minister to the Oahu Association–United Church of Christ.
Members and staff in each of those settings still attest to his contagious sense of humor, spirit of generosity, and constant emphasis on a congregation’s need to cultivate and sustain an authentic “sense of community.” This would provide the foundation for the nurturance of openness, trust, a hospitable relational environment, and a shared commitment to the common good for that church, as well as for the neighborhoods of it’s membership.
His leadership style reflected the values behind his conviction that God considers every person’s life a unique “story.” When that story is shared and affirmed in a Faith-based community, it becomes connected and linked with other members’ stories, making it part of a larger and wider Story… God’s Story. The ministries he envisioned and initiated during his 48 years of following God’s call are telling of his values. The programs included helping ex-inmates prepare to responsibly re-enter society; providing respite care for families-at-risk and single parents; utilizing a multi-acre outdoor site for ‘hands-on’ environmental stewardship education; providing Samoan children, youth, and families significant cultural, educational, and shared economic opportunities; providing quality long-term transitional housing and compassionate care for women and their children who are survivors of domestic violence; and started to advocate for victims of sexual assault. In these and other ministries Grant creatively utilized a “Talk Story” approach to articulate and organize the ministry, always building upon the sense of community shared by ministry providers and recipients.
The last decade of his ministry also found Grant in a volunteer role as a member of the Advisory Committee for the Indigenous Studies Degree Track Program at the Vancouver School of Theology in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He helped recruit a number of local folk to that unique seminary program, and visited with them several times to lend his support and encouragement to them.
At his Retirement Celebration in 2015, Grant gave out coffee mugs inscribed with this blessing—“Live well, laugh often, love much.” He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2008 and sought the wellness of life even in the midst of its progressively debilitating symptoms. Grant loved his children, grandchildren, family and friends dearly and invested the time and energy to express that. He believed that laughing (or weeping) with someone is another step towards the formation of authentic community.
He is survived by daughter Tracy, son Darren, grandsons, Luke and Jedidiah Griffin, sister Adrienne Mark (Philip), brother Gregg Lee.