Pastor Robert Grice always had a good word for everyone, even his greatest adversary.
“One time I told him, ‘You never have a bad word to say about anyone, I bet you even have something good to say about the devil,” Robert Smith, a fellow pastor, said. “He looked at me and said, ‘Well, at least he’s consistent.’”
Grice, 68, spent more than 50 years in ministry, and devoted much of his efforts to working with the poor, founding the Ark Mission in 2000. The mission, located in the old Flowers Hospital building on Main Street, houses a food bank, thrift shop, men’s discipleship program for the homeless and Grace Harvest Church, where Grice ministered.
Grice died after a series of heart attacks at Flowers Hospital on Oct. 25.
“He helped a lot of people,” Smith said. “A lot of people other people wouldn’t have helped. He didn’t turn anybody away.”
In addition to founding The Ark, Grice also founded an annual Good Friday cross walk event. Each year, participants take turns pulling a wooden cross down Main Street toward the Dothan Civic Center. At the most recent event, Grice told reporters that it provides a relevant and tangible way to keep attention focused on Christ’s sacrifice during the Easter season.
Smith said Grice’s ministry had a simple message of love and redemption.
“He could fellowship with Charismatics, Pentecostals, straight line Baptists – he didn’t let doctrinal issues disturb him,” Smith said.
Edward Jones, assistant music director at Grace Harvest Church, said Grice was one of the first pastors in Dothan to integrate services in Dothan. His flock dwindled as a result of the prevailing racial attitudes of those times and Grice eventually moved on to other ministries.
“God had a bigger overall plan for him,” Jones said.
Jones said one of his favorite memories of Grice was how Grice always gave a simple answer to inquiries about how he was faring.
“He’d always say ‘I’m overcoming,’” Jones said. “Regardless of the situation, he was always focused on the Lord.”