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Sam Reid, Public Pastor

Published:Thursday | April 30, 2015 | 12:00 AMDevon Dick

The Reverend Clarence 'Sam' Reid' was a public pastor because his pastoral responsibilities were not confined to his congregations at Calvary Baptist and Salt Spring in St James. He saw the community and country as his parish. He understood Jesus' mandate to go into the wider world and make disciples. He wanted God's will to be done in Jamaica as it is in heaven.

In 1977, I had my first encounter with Sam Reid when he was the guest speaker at my graduation from Calabar High School. He delivered, eloquently, a concise presentation. Sam Reid was to become my hero when I was a young pastor; therefore, it was not surprising that I asked him to do the prayer of ordination when I was ordained in 1987.

Sam Reid is known for his role as talk-show host of RJR's Hotline, where he was fair and balanced as he spoke truth to power. In addition, he was a Gleaner columnist for decades. He was a clear thinker and writer. Perhaps if he were writing today, he would have called on the cable operators to desist immediately from broadcasting unauthorised content. Sam would not be happy when it appears that cable operators could flout what is right, while persons who are poor might end up in jail for stealing ackees.

Sam Reid has the distinction of serving as a senator on two different occasions and appointed by a People's National Party (PNP) administration and later a Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) administration. After the Church's anti-gambling stance in 1972, which was the position of the PNP in opposing the state lottery, Michael Manley, then prime minister, appointed Sam to the Senate. When there was a crisis after the boycott of the 1983 general election by the PNP, Sam was called upon to be an Independent Senator to avoid a constitutional crisis. Sam served with distinction in the Upper House.

revisiting baptist roots

Sam Reid served twice as president of the Jamaica Baptist Union; the last time was in 1983 when Baptists in Jamaica celebrated 200 years of Baptist witness and work. During his tenure, the consciousness of the work of George Liele in the founding of Baptist work was raised, and the nation was reminded of the work of Baptists through free villages, anti-slavery stance and contribution to education through the construction of school buildings. As part of the celebration, two books were commissioned. One was done by Clement Gayle, Baptist historian, titled George Liele: Pioneer Missionary to Jamaica, and the other Samuel Sharpe: From Slave to National Hero, the only biography on National Hero Sam Sharpe, which was done by Sam Reid. This is a seminal work and should be required reading for students of history at various levels.

Sam Reid was courageous and a visionary leader. Perhaps the most striking example of his courage and vision was the decision to sell the old Calvary Baptist church building on Market Street, Montego Bay, to Victoria Mutual Building Society and to erect a much larger sanctuary and educational centre at Cornaldi Avenue. The move was not without harsh criticisms, including conflict of interest with VMBS. However, using his strong negotiating skills, Sam Reid was able to relocate and not cause a rift in the church. It is interesting to note that Calvary Baptist was formed as a result of a rift in the Burchell Baptist Church, which was also located on Market Street.

Sam Reid - a man of wisdom, courage and vision, a public pastor.

It would be a fitting tribute to him in recognition of his role as a public pastor extraordinaire, to have the Education Centre at the Calvary Baptist Church named after him - Clarence 'Sam' Reid.

• Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@