On Sunday evening, a friend of ours passed away after a very long and terrible illness. Chip Stam was an incredibly gifted teacher, worship leader, musician, singer – and just a wonderful person to be around. My husband had the opportunity to work for him as a grader for a few years while in seminary, and we traveled a few times with Professor Stam to Calvin College’s Worship Symposium.
On Saturday, Professor Stam will be laid to rest in Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky. Cave Hill is an extremely historic cemetery, the home to the graves of many famous Kentuckians, including Col. Harland Sanders, founder of KFC. Many who are studied in Southern Baptist history books are also buried there, such as Basil Manly, Jr. and A.T. Robertson.
People will visit Cave Hill each year who have no connection to those buried there. They go because of an interest in Kentucky history, or because of the beautiful setting. They go for information or inspiration.
But it’s different to think about visiting a grave there of someone we have actually known. I can still hear the sound of his tenor voice when he would call for Chris – “Hey Beth! Chip Stam here!” I can still here him talking about his “favorite songs” (they were ALL his favorite songs). And I can still hear him reminding Oratorio Chorus that “all vowels are tall vowels.”
Just like Stam, we are all on this earth for a limited amount of time. We can choose to live for our own pleasures, giving no thought or care for the future and for those who will come after us, or we can choose to give ourselves to doing the work that God has called us to do so that future generations can know the Lord.
A special verse to us while in seminary was Jude 3: “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.”
We, too, are in the process of handing down that faith. We want to hand it down most immediately to our son, and not just for his future salvation (although that is extremely important to us), but also so that he can impact future generations by “contending for the faith.”
Some day, future seminary students will probably walk through Cave Hill looking for Chip Stam’s grave. They’ll talk about the impact that he made in the area of worship ministry, and they’ll read about him in future history books. But they won’t have known him.
And, that’s okay. That’s why we have to “contend for the faith once for all delivered for the saints,” so that future generations have the opportunity to know and study the gospel message.
I pray that we, too, will have that kind of impact on future generations, even if it is in a small way, right where we live.
This is a beautiful tribute to Chip Stam, written by two of his friends and colleagues.
And this is a beautiful song tribute to Professor Stam by the Gettys.