Ewell Kerr Reagin

Cumberland Presbyterian Minister

1900 - 1985


EWELL KERR REAGIN, former president of Bethel College, former dean of the Memphis Theological Seminary, moderator of the 1936 General Assembly, and writer of Encounter died of a heart attack on the 23rd of June.
[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, July 1, 1985, page 11]


Born, Stella, TN, November 27, 1900; son of Bushrod Johnson and Frances Madora (Kerr) Reagin. Married Julian Rebecca Simpson of January 7, 1925; children--Ewell Julian (1927) and Rebekah Kerr (1936). Died June 23, 1985.

Education: elementary--Lawrenceburg, TN, and Warner School, Nashville, TN; secondary--Hume Fogg, 1914-15; Dayton, 1915-1917; and Maryville College Prep. School, 1918; higher--B.A., Bethel College, 1922; B.D., Memphis Theological Seminary, 1922; M.A., Birmingham Southern, 1925; graduate study at Southern Methodist University, University of Chicago, and the University of Tennessee.

Church membership: joined Lawrenceburg, TN, Church, 1908. Ordained by Hopewell Presbytery, 1922. Presbyteries: Princeton, 1922-24; Birmingham, 1924-26; Hopewell, 1926-29, 1932-44; Knoxville, 1929-1945-.

Churches served: First, Dallas, TX, 1922; Sturgis, KY, 1922-24; West End, Birmingham, AL, 1924-26; Atwood, TN, 1927; Medina, TN, 1927; Gleason, TN, 1927; Sharon, TN, 1927; Central, Memphis, TN, 1927; First, Knoxville, TN, 1928-31; McKenzie, TN, 1938-39; First, Knoxville, TN, 1944-69; Lebanon, Jefferson City, TN, 1970-77; Clinch View, Lenoir City, TN, 1975; Young's Chapel, Kingston, TN, 1975; retired, 1978.

Other service: teacher at Bethel College, 1926-44; dean of the college and seminary, 1931-44; president of the college and seminary, 1939-44; moderator of the General Assembly, 1936.

Member of the Board of Young People's Work, 1928-38; Committee on Preservation of the Birthplace, 1935; Permanent Committee on Denominational Books, 1936; Committee on New Digest, 1936; Committee on Minutes of General Assembly, 1936; Commission of Church Hymnal, 1937; Committee to Confer with the Woman's Board of Missions, 1937; Committee to Prepare Outline of Study, 1941; Committee on Church Buildings, 1943; Committee on GA Conference Topics, 1943; Committee to Study Educational Needs of the Church, 1943; Committee on Cumberland Crusade, 1943; Committee on Church Architecture, 1944; Committee on Evangelism, 1945; Committee on Divorce and Remarriage, 1947; Committee on Merger of Mission Boards, 1947; Board of Missions and Evangelism, 1950-59; Committee on Office of Stated Clerk, 1951; Committee to Study National Council of Churches, 1952; Board of Christian Education, 1960-66; Committee to Prepare Book of Common Worship, 1960; Committee on Cooperation and Union with Second CP Church, 1961; and Committee on Evaluation of the CP Seminary, 1961.

Published Works: Quarterly for Young People and Young Adults, 1945-63; Encounter, 1963-1986; Essence of Our Faith, 1931; Principles of Personal Worship, 1938; What Cumberland Presbyterians Believe, 1939; Cumberland Presbyterian Hymnal, 1940, co-editor; Bethel College Sermons, 1944, co-editor; Cumberland Presbyterian Digest, 1946; Now Faith Is, 1955; We Believe and So We Speak, 1960; The Holy Spirit, 1971; and Truth Stories of the Bible, 1977.

Comments and reflections: "I have had a very happy life as a minister in the CP Church for the past half century and more. I have never wanted to be part of any other denomination, although some may have wanted me to be. The church has been good to me, giving me always a place to serve without my having to ask for a single one.

"I have classified myself as a 'Quasi-Non-Conformist' in theology. I am not truly a liberal, and I am not a fundamentalist. I have tried to use the best tools available to me in forming my opinions, and I have tried to be sensible and generous with others who have different views.

"I have been able to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of my own church, as well as myself, and I have tried to work with anybody who is honestly trying to promote the kingdom. I have had too little patience with some who have seemed ignorant, and yet satisfied with themselves. But I have also had great respect for some who have seemed to have a limited ability but have used what they had to their utmost.

"Although I am not an activist in social matters, I have been quite concerned and involved in various efforts to improve conditions. I do not feel that as a nation we have even begun to scratch the surface of the social and economic needs, nor do I feel that the majority of our people, including those in our own Church, are seriously concerned about meeting them. We are satisfied with our religion on a pietistic basis and resist all efforts to become personally or collectively involved in the problems surrounding us.

"In recent months and years we have turned to an emotional expression as the clearest expression of religion and have seemingly decided that the way to be a true Christian is to spend our time in shouting pious expressions and going on pilgrimages away from home. By doing these things we make a show of religion and also remove ourselves from the nitty-gritty in our own back yards.

"Religious and emotional fads are accepted by the majority. Such fads do as all fads do, and eventually give way to new ones. Perhaps the next decade will show a new trend, to which the majority will just as easily turn, and the ones who lead them will be the heroes of the day."

[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, November 1, 1985, page 3]

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Updated December 18, 2007