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Reed Shares Hometown
Memories, Life Experiences
by Gary Night

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Grantsville native and current Smyrna, Ga., resident Brent Reed, son of Linda Reed Edwards of Grantsville and the late Larry Reed, recently visited his mother, extended family and friends in Grantsville and Calhoun County.

Reed, accompanied by his son Larry, was invited to share memories of his days growing up in Grantsville and to share some of his experiences since leaving the area.

As have many before him, Reed ventured beyond his home town, county and state to take his place among those who have distinguished themselves in a larger, more diverse and dynamic world.

Reed, who wrote sports news for both The Calhoun Chronicle and The Grantsville News from 1976 through high school graduation in 1978, initially planned to be a journalism major in college.

Reed attended Fairmont State College where, along with his studies, he worked for the sports director and kept stats for basketball and football games. It was at Fairmont that he met his wife, Donna, a native of that area.

He earned his bachelor of arts in education, with certifications in English and history, from Glenville State College in December, 1982, and began his teaching career at Hundred High School in the fall of 1983.

After teaching English and history for 11 years and coaching girls’ basketball, he moved on to Ashland, Ohio, in 1994, and earned a masters degree in spiritual formation and pastoral ministries at Ashland Theological Seminary in 1995.

The following six years found him pastoring in Ohio through 2001, when he returned to West Virginia and spent the next four and one-half years pastoring churches in Mason-town and Parsons.

It was during these years in West Virginia that he worked with a Christian basketball program that included his sons, Larry and Johnny. “That whetted my appetite further for coaching,” said Reed.

In 2005, he left West Virginia once again, moving to Smyrna, where Donna and he took teaching positions at Eastside Christian School, some six miles away in Marietta, where she still teaches third grade.

After three years of teaching English, history, guitar and physical education, and serving as the school’s athletic director, Brent left the school in 2008 to become pastor of Smyrna Church of the Nazarene: “We had been attending there, and they ultimately asked me to be their pastor.”

Among Reed’s fondest recollections of his early years are Saturday mornings in Grantsville, the Wood Festival, basketball games and tennis matches at Grantsville’s municipal park, social activities around the high school, writing for both newspapers, and forming and solidifying what would become “the deepest and most meaningful friendships of my life.”

“One of the best memories I have is Saturday mornings, because Saturdays were when people came to town. I loved coming up on Saturday mornings and seeing who was in town. Dad was sales manager at Calhoun Super Service, and the showroom is where men would come in and sit in the cars and talk. I loved to go in there and have the opportunity to hang around them and listen to their conversations.

“At that time as well, during the summertime, we went to the pool just about every day. It was active and crowded with young people. The tennis courts were built when I was in high school and, a little bit later on, they built the basketball court. You would go over to the tennis courts and there would be people. Although there were two courts, people had to wait to play tennis,” said Reed

Various individuals, organizations and businesses hosted tournaments over those years, and Reed won a number of trophies.

“We would swim in the daytime and eat dinner and go back and wait for a turn to play tennis or play basketball. They changed the basketball court from the single eight or nine foot rim to a legitimate full court. We had summer leagues and a lot of teams that were very good and very competitive. It was a good part of growing up. I loved growing up here,” said Reed.

“Right now, I am enjoying pastoring a church that is multi-cultural. It has been so different from what I ever imagined my life’s direction would take. The congregation is primarily African and Hispanic. We have a brilliant 23-year-old translator. She translates my sermons as I deliver them, and non-English speaking parishioners receive the sermons by headset.

“We’re trying to break down some walls and come together to worship as one family. It has probably been the most worth-while ministry that I’ve ever been a part of. I just love what we’re doing. It has been a great learning experience for me.

“We have a great church family, and our focus is reaching out and doing ministry beyond our doors. We have made a conscious effort to reach people from various ethnic backgrounds. We have been able to do that some, but we are still striving to do more and better.

“Churches on Sunday morning are probably the most segregated places in America, as each ethnic group has its own place of worship. Sunday shouldn’t be that. We are trying to tear some of that down. We have integrated our schools and various parts of our lives, and the church should have been out in front of that,” said Reed.

Exposure to very diverse cultures and environments has been, according to Reed, a beneficial experience for sons Larry, 19, and Johnny, 17: “There, you don’t see people anymore for race; you see them for their hearts and who they are as people.”

Reed’s church participates in Family Promise, a national organization that feeds and shelters the homeless: “We are one of 12 or 13 churches in our county that, four times per year, the homeless come to stay. We feed and shelter them for one week. They go to a different church the following week, and so on, until they are able to do for themselves.

“There is a large homeless population in the greater metro-Atlanta, which Smyrna is a part of, with an overall population of 6,000,000 people. Many homeless individuals are so because of drug addictions or alcoholism. Shelters are not a safe place for families with young children.

“Our church program provides safety and shelter for those families with young children. Most are families who have simply fallen on difficult times. We assist with getting people back on their feet. Some are very well educated and just can’t find work right now. They have kids, but have no home. We provide for them until they get a job and get back on their feet.”

“The ministry has been a great experience for the entire family,” Reed reflected, “It is great to see how God will stretch you. This has been my favorite ministry, because I feel as though we are trying to tear down some walls that man has built through the generations. We are doing something very worthwhile. We are thankful for that. It’s been a blessing. I often reflect on how God has stretched me in ways that I never dreamed possible.”

Reed still visits home at every opportunity. His most frequent visits involved driving home from Ashland every weekend for the first couple of years after his father’s death in the spring of 1995.

He is fond of recalling one special occurrence during one of those visits: “We were visiting from Ashland and dad had just died in March. Mother lived on Southside. We were expecting our first child, and my family was planning a baby shower for Donna at Grantsville Restaurant. One morning, Donna awoke feeling very sick. I called Mom, and she said, ‘She isn’t having that baby, is she?’ I told her, ‘No,’ but she called an ambulance.

“As we traveled across Mt. Zion ridge on our way to Roane General, the EMT said she could see the baby, and the driver pulled over. Larry, our first son, was born Apr. 29, 1995, in an ambulance sitting along the road on Mt. Zion ridge. From the time of the phone call until birth was approximately half an hour. People were listening on scanners.”

Reed said it is too soon to tell if he will move back sometime: “I have learned there are different seasons of life. You don’t know what the next season will bring. When I think of coming back, I have a tendency to remember the town as it was. I have also changed. My experiences have changed me. I am not the same Brent Reed as when I lived and grew up here. I don’t know what it would be like after being gone so long. Many have done it and done okay.”

He said he is thankful for Facebook, inasmuch as it has enabled him to stay in contact with family and friends here.

Reed reiterated his love of growing up here, his memories and his friends: “I have lived in a lot of different places, but my most meaningful and deepest friendships ever made are still the friendships I have here.

“Those are my memories and I enjoy remembering them, when Grantsville was vibrant, and those Saturday mornings. People were in town; businesses were doing well.”

Reed’s son, Larry, has been attending college full time and working full time. “I always liked the small towns,” he said. “Everyone knows everyone here. You’re always a stranger where we’re from.”

A large portion of Larry’s childhood memories are in Masontown, a small coal mining town in Preston County, 15 miles from Morgantown.

Larry plans to stay with his grandmother, Linda, until June: “I thought it would be good just to take a semester off, come back to Grantsville and spend some time with Grandma.”

“In two weeks,” said Brent, “as in the last couple of years, I will be doing a half marathon on the beach, which is my opportunity to get down to the ocean for a while.”

Reed departed for his home in Smyrna on Saturday.

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