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The Revd Robert Mclean-Reid

by
03 July 2015

Esther Foss writes:

THE Revd Robert Mclean-Reid, also known as Rab, Bob, and Rob, who died on 6 June, aged 72, was a truly remarkable person: a straight-talking Scot who was a gifted preacher, evangelist, and pastor, with a strength of faith which helped him to overcome many obstacles.

Rob's beginnings were humble. The Glasgow tenement building in which his family lived had just two rooms: one for living, and one in which his father ran a secondhand-bookshop and sold mugs of hot peas. Rob had physical problems, too. Born with club feet, he was unable to walk for his first years. In 1950, he was operated on by the renowned surgeon Andrew P. Laird at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Glasgow. Fortunately this was a success, and Rob had the use of his legs for the rest of his life.

Rob came to faith in Christ in 1965, after the sudden death of his father. He became involved in outreach work on the streets of Glasgow, in particular the "428 Club", which met each Wednesday night in the east end of the city, attracting hundreds of young people. Feeling the need for some kind of formal training, Rob enrolled on a course of study in Cliff College, Derbyshire, where he met his wife, Janice.

On leaving Cliff College, Rob became a pastor in the Church of the Nazarene, Stockton-on-Tees. After another position as a pastor in Blackpool, Rob felt that he needed more pastoral experience, becoming a missioner with Agnes Weston's Royal Sailors' Rests in Plymouth. Here he worked alongside naval chaplains, combining family care and a pastoral ministry with single men.

A complete change followed when Bob took on the position of Director of Portal House, Romford, where he remained for more than six years. In his time, the work expanded, and a farm near Brentwood was bought as a first port of call for more disturbed individuals. Rob also helped to set up a counselling service, and assisted the local authority with some of the more challenging adolescent problems. Rob was felt called to explore ordination in the Church of England, however. Much to his surprise and trepidation, he was accepted, and went with his family to Oak Hill Theological College. Rob was ordained in Chelmsford Cathedral in 1983.

His journey as a parish priest began in Rainham, Essex, and continued in the Episcopal Church at Newton Stewart in the diocese of Glasgow & Galloway, and then in the city of Aberdeen. David Jenkins, then Bishop of Durham, asked Rob to look after the Ascension, Easington Colliery, on the east Durham coast. After serving for five years, Rob took early retirement, owing to ill-health. Before a serious operation, he had a near-death experience, where he heard the voice of God telling him to "Stand back and see the Glory of God."

He improved in health, and continued in ministry in Seaham, helping around the deanery when required. His final post was as house-for-duty priest at Birstwith, in north Yorkshire. His failing health meant that he had to retire "properly" - though this was not in Rob's nature. He was often seen outside a café in Harrogate called Heaven, talking to the many people who came to him with their problems.

Many things about Rob stood out: his Calvinistic theology, coupled with a love of High Anglican ritual; his aptitude for finding unorthodox solutions to difficult pastoral problems; and his gift as a spell-binding raconteur and insightful guide.

Now at rest with his Lord and Saviour, having prepared himself for death in hospital, listening on his iPod to Cistercian monks singing the requiem for the dead, Rob leaves his wife, children, and grandchildren. He will be greatly missed. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

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