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Jim Reese retires from Presbyterian Foundation role


He’s called ‘an unparalleled source of institutional knowledge’ who loves the gospel and the Church

By Robyn Davis Sekula, Presbyterian Foundation | Special to Presbyterian News Service

At age 95, the Rev. Dr. James Foster Reese has retired from his role with the Presbyterian Foundation. (Photo by Robyn Davis Sekula)

LOUISVILLE — The Rev. Dr. James Foster Reese officially retired in December from his position with the Presbyterian Foundation as Minister of Specialized Interpretation, a consulting position he has held since 1995.

Reese, 95, has been an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church for more than 70 years and has been an active and committed extension of the Foundation’s staff. His work will continue through the Ministers of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

“We are incredibly grateful for Jim’s wisdom, the connections he has made in the church and the many ways in which he has served Christ through his work,” said Tom Taylor, President and CEO of the Foundation. “He is so well-respected and beloved in the PC(USA), for good reason. He has been indefatigable, with one of the longest-lasting careers in the Church, and has been an unparalleled source of institutional knowledge. Jim loves the gospel. He loves the Church. He has no doubt improved the PC(USA) through his tireless service.”

Reese is a native of Harrodsburg, Kentucky. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Knoxville College, a Master of Divinity from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and a Master of Education in Religious Education from the University of Pittsburgh. He holds an honorary Doctor of Divinity from Knoxville College and a Distinguished Alumni Award for Excellence in Specialized Ministry from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He is also the recipient of the Edler G. Hawkins Award, (National Black Presbyterian Caucus), the Lucy Craft Laney Award (Black Presbyterian Women’s Association) and the Maggie Kuhn Award (Presbyterian Senior Services).

Reese was first called to be pastor of Trinity United Presbyterian Church and Miller’s Ferry Presbyterian Church in Alabama. He was next called to serve as pastor of First United Presbyterian Church on the campus of Knoxville College. He took an academic sabbatical from KC to serve as Professor of Homiletics in Kenya, and upon his return, agreed to serve as the Christian Education Consultant for the Synod of Catawba in Charlotte, N.C.

Prior to his “retirement” in 1993, Reese served in a number of progressively responsible positions with the Presbyterian Church, with his last being the Director of the Racial Ethnic Ministries (now Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries).

Post-retirement, he has held nearly as many prestigious positions as he did previously, including service as the Interim Executive Presbyter for the Presbyteries of New York City, Detroit and Newark. At age 93, he “re-retired” as supply pastor for the Germantown Community Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, and, still known as an outstanding preacher, is often called to preach at events and programs across the country.

Robyn Davis Sekula is vice president of communications and marketing at the Presbyterian Foundation. She is a ruling elder and member of Highland Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Ky.

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