Pastor Dean Reid’s strong leadership and generosity in a time of crisis at a nursing home in his community of Ewarton, St. Catherine, is a perfect reminder of the fundamental role that the church and its leaders can play today in communities across the island.
He told The Beacon that he was at home having dinner on Sunday, October 25, when he received a telephone call about a ‘desperate situation’ of flooding. It was unfolding at the privately owned Fairview Nursing Home on Clarke’s Avenue in Ewarton.
“I got up from my dinner and went to investigate what exactly was happening with the people at the nursing home,” Pastor Reid recalled. “When I got there, I was moved to my very core. It was nothing short of bringing me to tears.”
Heavy rainfall, which was associated with Tropical Storm Zeta, caused a pond to overflow its bank and dump water into the nursing home – threatening the safety of staff and the 15 residents, including 13 senior citizens.
Without squandering time to get approval from the full board of his church, Pastor Reid opened the sanctuary and transformed it into a temporary home for the displaced residents of the nursing home.
He also played a lead role in urgently relocating the residents to his church – the Ewarton Gospel Lighthouse, situated on Clarke’s Avenue.
To date – nine days after the flooding, the nursing home, which is still awaiting Government’s green-light to return to its base, is still utilizing the church facilities.
As a result of that, the church scrapped its usual face-to-face service this week Sunday and went fully online, with Pastor Reid delivering the sermon from his office.
The pastor, who is also an architect and engineer, said he took a full week off his job to provide logistical and other support to the nursing home residents.
The members of his congregation clearly got the cue.
Pastor Reid explained: “Members of the church came on board and made sure the place is clean and things are being sanitized. There is someone from the church there every day.”
He also noted that, although his church was the one that first responded, several other churches, charity organizations and state agencies came onboard especially after he made a public appeal via video for help.
“I wasn’t even aware that there are so many different organizations that operated within the Ewarton community – and outside Ewarton,” Pastor Reid said.
“I applaud members of the community, including the young men who came out in their numbers to help [relocate the nursing home residents].”
The pastor’s benevolence apparently was not a facade.
“I did it because I believe in helping people; I believe in the people in the community…” Pastor Reid declared. “As a pastor, I see preaching as more than being in the pulpit. I believe pastoral duty is 10 percent of being inside the auditorium and 90 percent is spent on the outside. That is what we have to do.”
The clergyman has been a member of the Ewarton Gospel Lighthouse for some 30 years. He recalled becoming a Christian on 21 February 1993.
He previously served as a youth pastor, but became senior pastor 14 years ago consequent on the death of his predecessor Bishop Neville George Hamilton.
Pastor Reid is also the overseer and board chairman of the Independent Assemblies of God of Jamaica – the umbrella group of churches under which his sanctuary operates.
He is not only steeped in religion.
He holds a Masters and a PhD in Engineering, and is a graduate of the University of Birmingham in England.
Pastor Reid, while enrolled at the University of Technology in Kingston, pursued Industrial Technology, as well as Construction Engineering and Management.
He also studied Architecture at the Vocational Training And Development Institute, and is a graduate of the Providence Theological Seminary in Canada.
Pastor Reid recalled that, during childhood, he initially was not a fast learner, and so he failed the Common Entrance Examination at Ewarton Primary School.
He moved on to Linstead All Age School (now Linstead Primary and Junior High), where he passed a technical entrance exam and was placed at Dinthill Technical High School.
Dinthill Technical was a major turning point in his life, he said.
The pastor, who hails from Pollyground district in Ewarton, was raised by his mother Gwendolyn Kidd Keen and his grandmother Una Francis.
“I don’t know my father; I never met the guy,” he noted. “I want people to understand that you can come from nothing and you can become something. With God, all things are possible.”
The clergyman is married to Assistant Pastor Karen Reid, and is the father of two young children.
He told The Beacon that he would like to be remembered for his service to his community. “I would like to be remembered as a servant – as a servant of the people, a motivator and an inspiration. I want when young men and young women from the community of Ewarton and its environs see me and hear my name – or when they read my story, they will be motivated to say ‘I can make it too’.”
By Horace Mills, Journalist
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