Grove
Grove

Paul Zander was a young boy when he met the Rev. James Grove as the two prayed together regularly while Zander was dealing with his parents' divorce.

The two met again when Zander was searching for a church to attend and opted to attend the church Grove was pastor of at the time.

Through those encounters, a friendship grew and Zander, now 35, more or less became part of Grove's family.

"I guess they kind of call me an adopted son," Zander said Sunday.

Grove, the pastor Heritage Baptist Church in Springfield Township and known for his anti-abortion stance, died Thursday at Pinnacle Health Hospital in Harrisburg. He was 66.

Transplant: In August, Grove had a kidney transplant but suffered complications and was admitted to the hospital in September, said Zander, who spoke on behalf of the family.

He remained there until he died.

Grove became known in the county as a man who preached in the streets and for his anti-abortion stance.

Grove and three of his fellow anti-abortion protesters filed a civil-rights lawsuit against York City in 2005, alleging city officials violated their rights by deliberately putting the protesters' gory anti-abortion float at the back of an annual Halloween Parade.

In 2004, the float was called Dr. Butcher's Chop Shop and featured a van with a large photo of an aborted fetus, and was decorated with small mock coffins. Members of the group walked in front of the van wearing medical scrubs and carrying signs containing Bible verses and anti-abortion messages.

The 2005 entry was similar, and called "Baby Disposal Service."

In 2007, a federal judge ordered the city to pay Grove nearly $50,000 in costs and attorney's fees.

Carrying on: While not everyone agreed with Grove's views on religion, Zander said almost everyone can appreciate that he stood up for his beliefs and the right to practice his beliefs freely.

"I think pastor Grove fought for that," Zander said. "Pastor Grove was the biggest little guy you've ever seen."

Despite Grove's death, Zander said Heritage Baptist Church will carry on as it has. Zander has been named pastor of the church, which has a congregation of between 50 and 60.

"I believe his message will carry on," Zander said.

- Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.