McMaster Divinity College is mourning the passing of the Rev. Dr. James Reese (1934-2019). He was a beloved friend of the College.
Jim, as he was known, was a well-known, highly-effective, and outstanding pastor in several Baptist churches, an evangelist who traveled North America and abroad, a tremendously talented singer, an instrumental musician, and a writer and song-writer, whose active ministry spanned six decades.
Born in Michigan, Jim was a graduate of Bryan College and Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, and was for twenty five years at Benton Street Baptist Church in Kitchener, Ontario. He also faithfully served eleven interim pastorates. Jim was a compelling preacher with a phenomenal memory of Scripture, music, and poetry, and often combined his musical ability with his dynamic preaching in a given service.
Jim was also well known for being, along with his wife Adrienne, founder in 1965 of Christian Horizons, the worldwide ministry to the physically and mentally challenged. Anyone who was in the presence of Jim Reese was impressed by his commanding abilities, his humility, and his genuine friendliness and welcome of others, no matter their status or station in life.
Few people have been given as many gifts by God as Jim Reese, and he generously used them to God’s glory. But those who witnessed his abilities would also find that well-deserved praise of him would be warmly accepted and then immediately directed back towards God.
In 2006, MDC was pleased to bestow upon Jim an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree, and he delivered a memorable challenge to the MDC students in our Service of Celebration and incisive words of insight to all assembled at the convocation ceremony (these two talks are available here and here). Jim honored MDC by his willingness to accept the degree.
Jim became a committed supporter of the work and evangelical stance of MDC. He served on our Advisory Council for a number of years. He also helped to plan and lead three study tours, two to Israel, a country he loved and visited nearly a dozen times in his life, and one to Turkey. He was a regular participant at institutional-wide events, along with his wife of sixty two years.
The funeral service for Jim was held on Saturday, July 12, 2019, at Benton Street Baptist Church. He was honored by sincere and genuine words of eulogy by numerous family and friends, with the church sanctuary filled to beyond capacity in recognition of this stalwart figure in Canadian evangelical church life.
MDC truly mourns the loss of a great friend.