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about Grandpa max



C. Maxwell Brown was born in Beresford, South Dakota and raised in both South & North Dakota, graduating from Woodworth High School in Stutsman County which is present day Medina School District near Jamestown, ND. 

He attended Drew Theological Seminary in New Jersey and graduated in 1932. From there he spent the next 32 years as a Methodist Minister, husband & father of four while living in multiple North Dakota communities, including a 10 year stay at First Methodist in Fargo.

In 1960, he was called to the San Francisco Bay Area for the final years of his ministry. While in both San Jose & Berkeley, Grandpa Max was invited to deliver a series of radio addresses broadcast all across the west coast between 1960 & 1965. 

In 1985, those messages were collected into a self-published book called Backpacking in a Cultural Wilderness. 15 of the 30 messages are partly what fills the pages of Grandpa’s Gift.

They are rich with a faith infused wisdom born from foundational years living & ministering to the incredible people of the Dakotas. These words were poured out & "live streamed" all across the west coast of the United States. He officially retired in 1976, and lived to be 87 years old. 

Grandpa Max passed away in 1992, but his work lives on in Grandpa's Gift and seeks to share the timeless, Christ-inspired wisdom with any and all who have eyes to see & ears to hear.

Grandpa's Journey


“Yes, God is at work in history. We need to read the story of man with eyes open to all the truth, and hearts responsive to the hope it reveals."

C. Maxwell Brown

Preface from Backpacking in a Cultural Wilderness 


As one achieves the later years of physical life, he with the aid of a lawyer prepares a “will,” defining his wishes for the distribution of what property he possesses. Those of my profession who have not accumulated impressive amounts of wealth in material terms may hope to include in his gifts to family and friends some accumulation of non-material possessions. I am one of those. During the 44 years of my ministry, I have accumulated texts of several hundred messages delivered to congregations. I define the basic concepts of my religious faith and best reflect my attempts to interpret these concepts for the needs and struggles of the hundreds of folk I have been privileged to serve as pastor and teacher.

My personal faith is expressed in these words of Jesus, who said of himself, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life.” (John 8:12) I am convinced that Jesus as reported in the scriptures, represents the fulfillment of God, the creator's purpose in producing human life. In Him, God's hope and purpose became flesh and dwelt among us. (John 1:14) as God's fulfillment of purpose in human life, Jesus is One whom we can truly follow and thus live creatively through any and all life situations.

When folk backpack through nature's wilderness they provide themselves with a compass to determine their direction, and also carry water for refreshment and food for nourishment. While they hope to find some food and water in the wilderness they cannot be sure they will do so as they need it. Our cultural wilderness, also, may provide some refreshment and nourishment, as with wilderness water and food, but we cannot be sure of its purity and power to renew our strength as we need it. The life of Jesus has proven by human experience to be both refreshing and strengthening under all circumstances. The life of Jesus is the intellectual and spiritual supply we can carry with us through any and all changing cultures, providing us with the resources for happy and creative living. It is my hope that those who read these pages will find a clear sense of direction for life and the inner resources to provide strength and refreshment for any and all trials and challenges they may encounter.

During a recent move to a new residence, I discovered, much to my amazement, that my wife, Dorothy Unkenholz Brown, the mother of my family, had transcribed and saved copies of these sermons which I broadcast from San Francisco during the 1960s on behalf of the Northern California Nevada Council of Churches in cooperation with the Methodist Church. She is now in heaven, but I send her my sincere thanks for the accumulated savings which is rewarding me with interesting memories and encouragement during these retirement years - thank you sincerely, Dorothy! I also wish to thank Evelyn Berger Brown for encouraging me to assemble these copies for distribution and for her gift and having them published for me. I thank you most sincerely, Evelyn.

I also thank my grandson Todd Brown, Jennie Brown and Lorraine Cook for typing the copy for publishing thanks Todd, Jennie and Lorraine, I couldn't have done it alone. During my younger years I taught myself to type and found later that I had a very poor teacher. 

Finally, my thanks to all of the wonderful persons who have allowed me during the past 44 years to share with them the life of love and faith, and for the mutual support that has so enriched me. My family and friends are my true wealth! I thank God for each and every one of you.

C. Maxwell Brown

January 1, 1985

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