By JOHN FORTMEYER
CANNON BEACH — Decades ago, British native Graham Kerr came to huge international fame as TV’s humorous and innovative “Galloping Gourmet,” cooking and then personally savoring tasty dishes on camera.
Kerr now acknowledges that his lively TV persona from back then masked a deep spiritual void in his life — a need that was filled only when he followed his wife Treena’s lead in the 1970s and found truth and purpose in Jesus Christ.
Today, Kerr, 82 and a resident of northwest Wash-ington state, is widely known in Christian circles for the depth of his faith — a foundation that is helping him cope with the passing of Treena last Sept. 17 after 60 years of marriage.
“It’s been 179 days, but who’s counting?’ quipped Kerr on March 8 as he delivered a mix of both humor and serious reflection in a devotional message to kick off the seventh annual conference of Christian Chefs International. His remarks followed a dinner prepared by students of the Christian Culinary Academy.
The conference was held at Cannon Beach Conference Center, which also serves as home for the school, now in its fourth year and for which Kerr serves on its advisory board. Academy director Ira Krizo also is founder and president of Christian Chefs International (christianchefs.org), which has 2,000 members in 40 nations.
Kerr shared candidly about the difficulty of losing his life partner, whom he had first met at only age 10. He said he longs to simply hold Treena’s hand again, and believes that will happen when they meet once more in Heaven.
“I’ve had grief, and it’s gradually morphed into gratitude,” he said, pondering their many years together. Kerr noted the “eternal hope” that followers of Christ have in spite of the hardships of life and he urged his audience to let their lives reflect that.
“That is such a joy … and the world can’t understand us when we say that,” he said. “I would love for you to go forward as witnesses filled with that expectation and that love.”
In introducing Kerr, Krizo and Jim Krieg, executive director of Canyonview Camp near Silverton and a member of the Cannon Beach school’s faculty, both expressed deep appreciation that so noteworthy a person would choose to be affiliated with the academy.
Kerr, in turn, said he counts it a privilege to assist the school, a one-year program. He said it fits one of his own personal, God-directed goals — to seek not to do things on a big scale, but “to do a small thing and do it well.”
“I’m so attracted to what you are doing,” he said. “You are doing a small thing and doing it well. It is gradually multiplying each year, and it is wonderful to see it.”
Citing Isaiah 35:8, Kerr said that scripture describes a “highway of holiness” which God’s people are to follow and avoid the many distractions presented in modern life.
“Jesus said, ‘I am that way,’ ’’ Kerr quoted. “You arrived here on a highway of holiness — a way that Jesus has provided.”
Looking at the current world situation, Kerr noted that the United States appears to be losing its historic Christ-centered moorings and the church here is facing increased oppression, while at the same time some other parts of the globe — such as Africa — are seeing unprecedented growth in the Body of Christ.
Kerr said there has been almost a 7 percent increase in non-believers in the U.S. in the last several years, and that the nation’s political turmoil indicates the current instability. He admitted that it is all too easy to get angry and judgmental when pondering the American political scene.
“At the moment, our nation is awash with angry people, and nothing good is going to come of it,” Kerr said. He said that such anger is a distraction and that the solution is to let God daily guide His people’s thoughts and actions. “The moment that you spot a distraction, look to your heart and the Holy Spirit will bring to your mind a scripture for that particular situation,” he said.
Another temptation to be avoided, he said, is listening to the world’s ‘noise” and getting discontented over one’s personal circumstances in life. The far better focus, instead, is to seek to become more like Jesus.
“That’s the only real progress I want to make in my life,” he said.
At one point in his message, Kerr expressed his joy in a few notes of song, but admitted he perhaps strayed from the melody a bit.
“I sing above and below the notes so as not to infringe on copyright,” he explained, prompting big laughter.
By JOHN FORTMEYER