This week we are thanking God for the life of John Reid.
John passed away peacefully on Saturday 2 January, after a long illness. He was 87 years old. We remember John’s life with deep gratitude to God, and offer our heartfelt sympathies to Alison and all the family.
John will be remembered fondly as a leader, teacher, mentor and friend, but most of all as a dedicated servant of Christ. With a strong ministry of leadership, he served as Bishop of South Sydney from 1972 – 1993, and as Chair of the International Council of Interserve from 1986 – 1998. After retiring, John and Alison also served for two years with UMN/CMS in Nepal – Alison as a counsellor and John in wide-roving roles encouraging and training church leaders, UMN members and more.
John was a close friend of Howard Barclay, who served with his family as an Interserve Partner in Nepal. Howard’s son John Barclay, also an Interserve Partner, wrote the following in a personal tribute:
John was the Chairman of the Interserve International Council for many years (taking over from Bishop Jack Dain) and we met at various conferences along the way, including at the 1990 UMN Annual Conference when John was the main speaker and Mum and Dad were retiring after 30 years of involvement in Nepal – his contribution to their farewell was memorable and highly significant. I will never forget the way John led the concluding Communion service at the Interserve Quadrennial conference in Kathmandu in 1994 – commenting on what a remarkably gifted and competent group of people were present representing the wider Interserve fellowship (how true that was), and continuing to make the point that at the same time we were flawed and frail and in need of God’s grace and sanctification – how true that was too.
When John and Alison joined UMN as Personnel Counsellors they were both instrumental in helping me professionally (Alison) and pastorally (John), to survive two very difficult and challenging years (1994-95) at Gandaki Boarding School. One of John’s letters to me during that time referred to the ‘tottering fence’ imagery in Psalm 62 – it has been a consistent source of encouragement over the years when times are tough.
Other past Interserve Partners and staff members have written:
He took a personal interest in people, which I always found astounding: his own work as Bishop was so big, his role as International Chair carried heavy responsibility and yet he wrote personal letters, made phone calls and was more than “interested in passing” in Partners and staff. His wisdom and leadership were of great value to the Australian Council. While International Chair he always attended National Council Meetings and was available to Fellowship leadership.
I was privileged to get to know John and Alison in a variety of contexts within Interserve.
When our family was living in South Asia, John visited and took a keen interest in the projects in which our team was involved, as well as speaking at our annual conference. In his role as Interserve’s International Council chair, I experienced close-up his skill at managing large meetings, apparently effortlessly dealing with complex issues and negotiating tricky committee procedure. When he and Alison served with UMN in the 90’s, it was always a pleasure to hear his ideas on the way the organisation was running, and Alison and he showed me warm hospitality on a number of occasions in Kathmandu.
Once when I phoned John at their Avoca home in recent years, I asked him if he was still swimming, as he had been a keen swimmer over long distances for much of his adult life, I believe. He told me that he still went down to Avoca beach, but it was not so much swimming as floating around like a teabag! I’ll remember John for many reasons, not least his sense of humour.
A good and godly servant of the Master who has gone to be with his Saviour and Lord.
John’s funeral will be held at 10.00am on Thursday 14th January 2016 at St Andrew’s Cathedral, George Street Sydney, followed by morning tea. A burial will take place at 2.00pm at St Jude’s Randwick.
Details at The Sydney Morning Herald.