Jamaican Baptist pastor eulogised as pioneering theologian
Renowned theologian and former Paastor of the East Queen Street Baptist Church, Rev Dr Horace Orlando Russell, was eulogised on Saturday at a stirring service of thanksgiving for his life at DeBaptiste Funeral Home auditorium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. He died on April 5 at age 91.
Some 60 invited guests joined his wife Beryl, their children and other members of the family for a two-hour ceremony, while many others from Geneva, Barbados, Jamaica, Canada, and the United Kingdom joined by Zoom.
A number of tributes were offered by various organisations, including the East Queen Street Baptist Church of Kingston, where he served for more than 15 years as pastor; the Jamaica Baptist Union; the Philadelphia Baptist Association; the Baptist World Alliance; the National Council of Christ in the USA; the American Baptist Historical Society; and from Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States, Audrey Marks.
Jamaica’s Honourary Consul to Philadelphia, Christopher Chaplin, delivered the tribute on behalf of the ambassador, who said, “The Rev Dr Russell was a Jamaican of no mean order. This is attested to by the fact that his passing is felt deeply not only by his family or among Jamaicans, but, in fact, around the world.”
She described Russell as “a pioneer voice among theologians – in Jamaica, the Caribbean, and globally; as well as spiritual leader, teacher, and scholar who harnessed all his God-given talent into a calling that he placed in service to many as a great mentor, over a rich, blessed, and long life.”
The ambassador pointed out that “the diaspora has benefited directly from the Rev Dr Russell’s outreach, specifically through Saints Memorial Baptist Church in Philadelphia, where he served until retirement not long ago.”
She added: “Although his later years were spent here in the USA, Dr Russell’s contribution will not be forgotten any time soon – neither in Jamaica nor on the world stage where he gave stellar service as well.
“Within and outside of his native land, Dr Russell represented us very well, and for that we are grateful to his family for having so generously lent him to the cause of humanity. This great son of Jamaica lived ever faithful, ever true to the Jamaican National Pledge, his fingerprints evidenced in many an individual’s life and Christian ministry across the globe as well,” Marks concluded.
In delivering the eulogy, his niece, Cheryl McCalla, described Russell as an outstanding man of God, an excellent father and a loving husband. She said he was committed to his family and his parishioners.
She described him as an outstanding church historian, ecumenical leader, and one who has been associated with the world’s greatest religious leaders and thinkers.
“Horace Russell has always maintained a simple but profound understanding of the Christian faith and a love for his homeland. He has been a beloved mentor and friend to hundreds of young people, and a wise counsellor and beloved pastor,” his niece nostalgically reminisced.
Russell died leaving wife Beryl, daughters Elizabeth and Heather, and son Jonathan.