by Rev. Henry Klassen
Rev. John Reimer was born on Feb. 16, 1919, just after World War I and died on Nov. 3, 2016. Much of his life was spent in dedication to a successful ministry in the E. M. Conference. I had the privilege to learn to know him and to work with him in different stages in his life. In 1945 he married Leona Reimer who played a very important role in John’s ministries over the years.
My first memory of John was when he served with Western Gospel Mission in Saskatchewan from 1946–55. From time to time he would come to our church in Steinbach, where he was also a member, and report on his ministry. As a youth I recognized his passion for the work he did in the public schools, in evangelism, and in establishing churches. Many years later people in the community would still express appreciation for the Reimers’ ministry.
John graduated from Steinbach Bible Institute in 1943. He was one of the first young people from our church to go to Bible School. This pioneer spirit was also evident when he became the first church supported missionary with Western Gospel Mission.
In the early fifties EMC started to have church services in Winnipeg, especially for EMC people working and living in the city. This endeavour developed into an organized EMC church. John became the pastor of the Aberdeen Church in 1955. When I attended Teachers College in 1958–59, I was active in this church. John was an inspiring pastor with a vision for outreach in the poorer areas of the city. He encouraged his church to be involved in the church’s outreach known as Euclid Mission.
John’s interest and commitment to global missions was affirmed by his active participation on the EMC Board of Missions from 1959–64. We were sent to Belize as missionaries during this period. He was an encouraging member of the board. When the BOM decided to hire an executive secretary to do the administrative work, John was chosen to fill this new position. John did a remarkable job during the transition from board member to a hired administrator. In 1973 I was appointed John’s assistant. We had a respectful and good relationship.
I found John as Executive Secretary relating in a caring and thoughtful manner with missionaries. When he visited us in Belize in the Executive Secretary position his interest and support for our involvement was very evident to us. John contributed to the growth of EMC Missions during his term as Executive Secretary from 1969–1977.
John’s heart for missions was evident when he retired from pastoral ministry in Wymark EMC and volunteered to go to Paraguay to pastor a church. After the Reimers left, people in the church often talked about their valued ministry. As a senior he was also appreciated by the EMC missionaries serving in Paraguay.
In my involvement with John over the years I found him deeply committed to prayer and trust in the Lord for guidance and enablement. He was a man of passion for the Lord and His mission.
In his retirement John continued to serve the church as interim pastor at Anola, as a deacon in Steinbach EMC, and in other ministries. He was active in service of his Lord and Saviour as long as God gave him the strength. I am reminded of Paul’s words in 2 Tim. 4:7-8. These words could have been John’s testimony: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return.”
In offering this tribute, Rev. Henry Klassen brings a background of having served as a WGM worker, EMC missionary, Assistant Secretary (1972–77) and Executive Secretary (1977–2000).