John Reed said his father’s first love was preaching the gospel, and he often counseled struggling pastors and churches. Though Reed pastored some large churches, his son said Reed always had a soft spot for small churches and “was happiest and most fulfilled in smaller congregations.”
Gordon Kenworthy Reed—PCA pioneer in church revitalization, early organizer of Reformed Theological Seminary, and one of the founding PCA pastors—has died. He was 90. Reed served several key PCA churches and institutions, including as the first director of Ridge Haven, on the faculty at Reformed Theological Seminary Jackson, and as a founder of RTS Charlotte.
In his 53 years of ministry he pastored 11 churches, giving particular care to churches that were struggling to grow. “He would go to struggling churches and revitalize them before ‘revitalization’ was a word,” said Melton Duncan, a ruling elder and church administrator at Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville, South Carolina, who grew up hearing Reed preach.
Reed revitalized a struggling Second Presbyterian when he pastored the church from 1964 to 1975. As the neighborhood around the church declined and members left the downtown area, Reed continued to pour in to the congregation. Not only did the church start to grow, Mel Duncan said, but Reed led the congregation out of the Presbyterian Church (US) to the newly-formed PCA. Reed served as part of the Committee of 30, the group of teaching elders who founded the PCA in 1973.
Reed was born on October 3, 1930, in Bristol, Tennessee. Like many of the PCA’s founding fathers, Reed graduated from Columbia Theological Seminary. He was ordained in 1956 and pastored 11 churches in Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, and Mississippi.
“He was truly a founding father of the PCA, and he spent his life, really, founding things. But at heart, he was a local church pastor,” said Ligon Duncan, RTS chancellor and one of Reed’s former parishioners.