Sat | Dec 10, 2016

'His priority was never money', pastor, friend remember Glen Archer

Published:Sunday | March 1, 2015 | 12:32 PMSherine Williams, Gleaner Writer
In this 2012 file photo, Chantae' Blackwood (right) of Wolmer's Prep, is hugged by Reverend Glen Archer shortly after she won the Spelling Bee championship for Kingston.

When many Jamaicans hear the name Rev Glen Archer, the only words that come to mind are Spelling Bee.

But Rev Adinhair Jones, pastor of the Olsen Memorial Church of God in Jamaica and the one who will deliver the sermon at Rev Archer's funeral today, remembers Archer as a well-rounded man.

"When I met Glen in 1985 he was heavily involved in the performing arts. He worked with a drama group that was doing production for the church community. In fact, while he was in the hospital, I visited him quite a lot and Glen told me that he was thinking about becoming  involved in the pastorate," Jones recalled.

Archer graduated summa cum laude from the Jamaica Theological Seminary in 1977 with a bachelor's degree in theology but he never served from the pulpit.

Instead he dedicated his life to the teaching and coaching of students.

With 26 national champions in The Gleaner's Children's Own Spelling Bee competition and Jody-Anne Maxwell achieving international acclaim under his tutelage as the only non-American to have won the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee Competition, many know the Reverend as a coach and teacher - not as a preacher. 

Bees with the Archer sting

Jones insists that had Archer got the chance, he would have done well as a pastor.

"More than anything else Glen was a disciplined interpreter of the word and so clear in terms of his application that you would listen to him from start to finish. Glen put his all in whatever he was doing, so if his presentation involved something dramatic to get the message across he would do it. In fact Glen was a frequent preacher at the Olsen Memorial Church when it started some 25 years ago. He was well respected and loved for his messages," Jones said.

He described Archer as an expository preacher , one who was able to explain the meaning of a text and apply it to a particular situation.

"Glen had a love for The Word and that included working with a word and getting to the root of it in order to understanding the full meaning. I believe he brought that meticulous practice to the practice to the preparation of children for the Spelling Bee Competition and the School's Challenge Quiz Competition as well," Jones said.

An emotional Jones described Archer as "old school" stating that Archer did not seek affluence from his work as a coach.

"His priority was never money, it was about putting the children he taught in a position to maximise their full potential," Jones said.

Roy Ebanks, former Ardenne High School principal and mentor of Archer, agrees that the late coach was dedicated to the children he taught and didn't do it for money or accolades.

"He even had to do dialysis treatment in Washington D.C. at the Scripps National Spelling Bee competition but he still continued to create champions," Ebanks said.

Archer who had chronic kidney failure died on February 15, more than a month after he was admitted to the University Hospital of the West Indies.

Rev Glen Archer anxious to return to his calling

His was hospitalised after his condition worsened when he caught the Chikungunya virus.