Pastor Reid of Morgan County
MORGAN COUNTY PASTOR REID RETIRES IN MARCH AFTER 55 YEARS OF SERVICE
From colored water fountains and back door access to “public places,” Morgan County Pastor Reid is calling it quits after 55 years.
From the sanctuary to surgical rooms; from classrooms to courtrooms; from baby blessings to bridal ceremonies; and from baptisms to bereavements, Pastor Reid has been a personal pastor who selflessly served God's people in all areas of their lives. And his loving, pastoral spirit is never confined to his own congregation but extends to support fellow pastors and their parishioners whenever needed. In an era where the news of religious leaders has come to be equated with scandal and scorn, the loving community of Madison, Ga., heralds a man who is affectionately known as the “Pastor of Morgan County.”
In 1957, Pastor W. J. Reid publicly accepted his divine call to ministry after spending a couple of years preaching in the woods around his Morgan County home. After 55 years in the ministry, on Sunday, March 25, 2012, the Springfield Missionary Baptist Church in Madison, where Pastor Reid has pastored for the past 45 years, hosted closing, retirement celebration activities in his honor.
In 55 years of service to the Morgan County community, Pastor Reid has seen and experienced much. Most importantly, his genuine love for people of all races and stations in life has left an unique impression on the small Georgia community which Sherman refused to burn during his historic March to the Sea.
Ironically, it was the devastating burning of the historic Springfield sanctuary in July 1994 which was perhaps the most pivotal moment in Rev. Reid’s career as a pastor. Arsonists destroyed the historic building which had stood tall for almost 100 years. Yet, despite the hateful attack which occurred just days before the church’s annual homecoming celebration, Pastor Reid led the congregation to continue worshipping in alternate locations during the rebuilding process. In Oct. 2005, under the watchful eyes of television and newspaper reporters, the Springfield Church family marched into their new sanctuary. What the arsonists meant for evil, Pastor Reid led the congregation to understand that God would use it for good. Indeed, under Pastor Reid’s leadership, the new sanctuary with additional seating, new instructional space, and enhanced utilities enabled Springfield to expand human services and outreach to the community, especially the youth. Despite a devastating loss, Pastor Reid embraced the new opportunities and prompted the congregation to elevate its presence in the community and county.
One key area of elevated status is race relations. In the same community which once forced Pastor Reid to use back doors and separate water fountains, Pastor Reid has promoted loving relationships across racial
boundaries. Following the church burning, Pastor Reid led Springfield to partner with Pastor Tom Duff, and then Bethany Baptist Church, to alternately host sunrise services each Easter. The fellowship has created some new relationships and strengthened some old relationships across racial lines.
Indeed, with 55 years of ministry primarily in the non-urban South, Pastor Reid has experienced a range of challenges. From his very humble beginnings in the Jim Crow era, which included walking and catching a ride
from Rutledge to Eatonton for almost two years to meet a pastoral commitment, to working full-time in Atlanta at Sears on Ponce de Leon while pastoring four different congregations simultaneously, to rebuilding a church after a devastating fire, Pastor Reid has exhibited remarkable courage, commitment, compassion, and Christian character. In the words of one parishioner, they will eventually fill Pastor Reid’s seat, but no one will ever take his place.
Printed in the March 29th edition.