Harry Reeder, a veteran pastor at Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama, was unexpectedly killed in a car accident on Thursday morning at 75 years old.
Reeder served as a pastor at Christ Covenant Church from 1983 to 1999, after which he accepted a call to become senior minister at Briarwood Presbyterian Church, the influential congregation from which the Presbyterian Church in America launched in 1973.
The minister was pronounced dead on the scene after his vehicle collided with a dump truck that had stopped to make a turn. He is survived by his wife, Cindy, as well as three children and several grandchildren.
“Our Lord has called Pastor Reeder home through a car accident,” Bruce Stallings, executive pastor at Briarwood Presbyterian Church, said in a statement posted on social media. “But we do not grieve without hope because we know our pastor is with his Savior and has been received by grace with ‘Well done My good and faithful servant.’”
The Presbyterian Church in America is a conservative evangelical denomination, not to be confused with the theologically liberal Presbyterian Church USA, from which the former communion split half a century ago. Reeder is broadly seen as a successor to the generation of southern ministers who led the departure from the PCUSA and the formation of the PCA.
Reeder was educated at Covenant College, Westminster Theological Seminary, and Reformed Theological Seminary. He had planned to lead a tour of Israel with Westminster students scheduled to depart next week.
Presbyterian ministers, as well as leaders in other evangelical denominations, poured out prayers for the Reeder family and fondly remembered the pastor’s life and ministry.
“Harry was a force of nature with a gregarious personality matched to theological conviction and pastoral courage. He was a man of simple piety matched to great concern about the role of the Christian in a rapidly changing culture,” Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote in an article for WORLD. “To know Harry Reeder was to know his infectious love for Christ and his passion to see the church reach out through evangelism and simultaneously influence the culture.”
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Alabama Republican State Senator Dan Roberts, a ruling elder at Briarwood Presbyterian Church, also offered a tribute in the article.
“I would characterize Harry as the ultimate pastor-teacher whose love for the church of the Lord Jesus Christ was obvious to all who spent time with him,” he recounted. “He loved to be a part of the presbytery and to spend time with other pastors at general assembly. Harry was committed to the regulative order of corporate worship. Harry loved the church as much as any pastor I’ve ever had the privilege to be around. He pastored Briarwood Presbyterian Church and was honored to serve this body of believers. He will be greatly missed by all those he impacted for the Kingdom.”
Reeder passed away one day before Tim Keller, another veteran PCA minister who served for decades at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, succumbed to a prolonged battle with pancreatic cancer at 72 years old. American Christians noted that both men, beyond their zeal for the gospel and their labors in preaching and teaching, consistently served at their churches for decades and remained faithful to their families.