Good News at Noon is losing its full-time pastor and director, the Rev. Edward Grant, at the end of the month.
Grant, 67, has been with the homeless shelter and feeding program since the late 1990s, at first as a volunteer, then as a pastor and finally as the director.
He is stepping down to spend more time with family.
The news puts one of Gainesville’s most popular and successful ministries in need of new leadership. Good News estimates it feeds about 58,000 hot lunches a year.
Gene Beckstein, the founder of Good News at Noon, said it would be “nearly impossible” to replace Grant.
“He took over for me and we got organized,” Beckstein told The Times on Monday.
Grant said he’s not leaving the organization completely. He’ll still volunteer and teach a class at the shelter once a week.
For Grant, the decision to retire was twofold. He said he wants to spend more time with his grandchildren, but he also wants his work at Good News to be more hands-on than the role of director allows.
“I can better serve our faith without the title,” he said, explaining that without the daily responsibilities of the director, he’ll get more of a chance to interact with those the ministry serves.
The shelter’s staff said Grant will be missed.
“He’s brings the quality of professionalism,” said Tom Ramirez, who manages the shelter. “We need that. He can wear the cap of pastor, he knows love and discipline, and he knows how to be a professional.”
Beckstein, who’s known as “Mr. B” by most people at the shelter, said Grant knew how to deal with the details of the organization better than he ever did.
Grant didn’t exactly have the typical resume to become director. He is an ordained minister, but spent much of his career as a trucker. He owned a trucking company with his wife, Marie, before they retired from that business.
The Grants began volunteering at Good News as a way to put their Christian faith into practice.
“I came here looking for a place to serve Christ and share my faith,” he said. “It was never my design to be the director or the pastor.”
However, as other leaders left the ministry, Grant began to play a larger role.
Beckstein said he handpicked Grant to become director about five years ago.
Along the way, Grant said he’s learned a lot about the importance of becoming part of the community and a lot about faith from the Good News at Noon founder.
“I have been served by the ministry and Mr. Beckstein,” he said. “My thinking has been transformed.”
While it’s been rewarding, Grant said it’s time to step down. Grant, who is also a bus driver for Hall County Schools, said he needs more time to be an influence on his grandchildren’s lives.
Although his tenure as director ends on June 30, Grant said he’ll stay part of the planning process for a birthday celebration for Beckstein who turns 90 on July 23.