CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (June 6, 2015) -- When the Rev. Neville Hammer was 74 and sick with leukemia, he had a frequent visitor who made the difficult days a little better. His grandson, Jacob Reedy, was 21 at the time.
“He said I would make a good pastor because I had a good bedside manner,” says Reedy.
Hammer died in August 2004, but his grandson did not forget what the retired pastor said. On Thursday, June 11, at the Holston Annual Conference, the Rev. Jacob Paul Reedy will wear his grandfather’s robe and stole as he becomes an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church.
“It’s been a long and trying journey,” said Reedy, now age 32, “which makes finally reaching this moment feel absolutely wonderful.”
Reedy’s home church is Mafair United Methodist Church in Kingsport, Tenn. Over the years, his grandfather served at numerous churches throughout Holston, including Bookwalter, Inskip, Stone Drive, St. Mark (Clinton), Central (Lenoir City) and Grigsby Chapel.
Reedy was a UT student working as a youth ministry leader at Trinity United Methodist Church in Lenoir City when his grandfather died. “Granddaddy got me the job,” he says.
In 2005, Reedy attended Discovery, Holston’s spiritual-discernment event, and worked as a counselor at Camp Wesley Woods. Those experiences -- as well as affirmation from his grandfather and the late Rev. Charles Burnett – propelled him toward a future in full-time ministry.
“At the end of that summer, I was pretty sure that was what I wanted to do,” he said.
Reedy received an undergraduate degree in history from East Tennessee State University in 2007 and a master’s degree from Methodist Theological School of Ohio in 2011. He has served as associate pastor at Tyner UMC in Chattanooga since 2012. He is projected for appointment as associate pastor at Middlebrook Pike UMC in July.
He remembers his grandfather as a “very disciplined and quiet man who loved his family tremendously.” When others share their memories of the Rev. Hammer, they remember a man whose home was “always open.”
“There are so many stories about the various people who stayed with him and his family over the years, as well as the countless stray animals that ended up with them,” he said.
When Reedy wears his grandfather’s robe and stole on June 11, his grandmother, Arlita Hammer, and his mother, Amy Reedy, will be watching.
Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newspaper.