WESLEY CHARLES REAGAN
MARCH 27, 1931 – FEBRUARY 22, 2011
“When God sends forth a spotless soul,
To learn the ways of earth,
A Mother’s love is waiting there,
We call this wonder…birth.
When God calls home a weary soul,
And stills a fitful breath,
Love divine is waiting there.
This too is birth…not death.”
When a baby boy was born on March 27, 1931 in tiny Tucumcari, New Mexico, nobody for miles around had any idea that this baby would grow into an extraordinarily gifted scholar, wordsmith, preacher, teacher, shepherd, friend of everyone and spokesman for God. Nobody had any idea this baby would live a life that touched countless people, a life with warm, affirming influence for almost everyone he would meet. Yet, that’s what arrived that morning, and almost 80 years later this remarkable man would reach out and touch the face of God and hear those words “come on home, Wes. Well done…well done.”
Wes heard the gentle call of God early on, and he enmeshed himself in the church. Entering Abilene Christian College, it didn’t take long before his energy and his tireless thirst to learn as much as possible about the nature of God and the pathway to Christian servant hood caught the attention of just about everyone. By his senior year, he was viewed as having the pulpit capabilities of pastors with a lifetime of ministry under their belts, and his Biblical scholarship was on a par with his professors. Each spring ACC held a week-long lectureship program, wherein the great pulpit masters across the nation were invited. In 1953, Wes’ senior year, the school decided to also choose three students who showed promise and invited them to also speak and he was one of the three. In a stunning turn of events, young Wes’ sermon surpassed them all. Everyone knew that someone very, very special was right there in their midst. Wes went on to live a ministry career where he was in constant demand as a preacher, lecturer and teacher of scripture.
After many years in ministry, Wes developed a personal friendship with Rev. Walter Underwood, who at that time was pastor of the St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Houston. After Walter was elected Bishop and sent to lead the Louisiana Conference, he brought Wes into the United Methodist Church in Louisiana. To say the Louisiana Conference was blessed indeed by this presence is an understatement. His last pastorate, spanning over a decade, was with the St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in New Orleans, where he led the church into a flourishing ministry at every level, including Bible studies, youth involvement, missional outreach, and as vibrant a worshipping congregation as one would ever want, with a strong influence from the arts and theatre. He led the church through two building programs, and the congregation responded to his every vision.
He edited the nationally distributed Higley International Lesson Series, and always personally supervised the work of each and every writer chosen for each volume. If it had anything to do with any aspect of the Body of Christ in any form, Wes was energized and more than ready to see what God had in store for him to do. His preaching career spanned nearly 60 years, and untold lives were changed and blessed by his presence. A reading from Job was lifted up at his Memorial, as surely befits his life:
“Think about the many people you have taught and the weak hands you have made strong. Your words have comforted those who fell, and you have strengthened those who could not stand.” Job 4:3-4
After Wes and Linda retired to their home on Lake Conroe in Montgomery, Texas, Wes was asked to pastor Farris Chapel United Methodist Church, and until his death that congregation had fallen in love with his genuine leadership and authentic friendship, as have so many.
I sat with Wes for a full afternoon at his home February 16th and we laughed, prayed, remembered, and exchanged goodbyes. As I prepared to drive away, we knew we would not see each other again. Less than a week later, he stepped into the Church Triumphant. God called him home in the early morning hours of Tuesday, February 22, 2011, one month and five days short of his 80th birthday.
Wes is survived by:
His loving and devoted wife, Linda.
His children Rand, Debbie and Brad.
And their mother, Mary.
Wes was preceded in death by his and Mary’s youngest son, Ward.
He is survived by Linda’s children: Steve, Becky and Walt.
And by his brother Fred and his sister June.
And by 15 deeply loved grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren.
And by a host of parishioners, who are ever thankful God sent him to them.
And by so many of us in ministry who knew Wes and knew that THIS is what Christian shepherding is supposed to be.