Reggin, Rev. Susan Carol Reid (Cohutta)
Monday, October 26, 2020
The Rev. Susan Carol Reggin (Reid), honorably retired pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Cohutta, passed into life eternal on October 20, 2020. She was 75.
Since her ordination in 1988, Pastor Susan (as she was often called), served several PC(USA) churches, including Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church of Chicago, Il. and Kanapaha Presbyterian Church of Gainesville, Fl. Most recently, she was called to First Presbyterian Church of Cohutta, where she faithfully served for 14 years until her retirement in 2018. Wherever she served, she was known for her insightful and honest sermons, which she usually delivered seemingly extemporaneously, walking among the worshipers and welcoming spoken feedback. Her parishioners appreciated her capacity to actively listen to their joys and concerns. She gently guided them to extend their faithful witness to the love of Jesus Christ into the community beyond the church. The congregations Susan served provided financial, material and spiritual support to homeless shelters, after-school and adult literacy programs, addiction recovery groups, food banks and other organizations dedicated to helping neighbors in need.
Pastor Susan experienced ministry as an opportunity to share the unconditional love of Christ with those in particular need of a good word. She never resorted to dogmatic haranguing, preferring instead to be God’s witness through her compassionate attention to the person in front of her and through her probing questions. Because of her own curiosity-driven intellect and her academic degrees in sociology (University of Illinois-Chicago) and divinity (McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago), those questions could easily span subjects ranging from Robert’s Rules of Order (which she knew well, but didn’t much care for) to the ways historical metaphors of the eschaton meshed with the contemporary political scene. Most often, though, her questions echoed her deep engagement with contemplative wisdom traditions. She was especially attentive to the ways people could strengthen their relationships to the Holy One by sharing with others their own God-given gifts.
Pastor Susan’s ability to help people see how the everyday and the sacred are always intertwined was perhaps most apparent when she talked with children. She loved it when kids asked life’s toughest questions, and she helped them to see that mystery—the "not knowing" that frames most of life and death—can be both spur and refuge. During worship, Pastor Susan would sit with kids during Children's Time and deeply listen as they talked about their love of a favorite toy, hair ribbon or new pair of shoes, asking them questions about how their favorite things connected them to others and to God. Always, and regardless of age, she appreciated the whole person before her, and she did not flinch when a child skipped from talk of a video game to anger about divorcing parents, grief over a recently deceased pet or terror about starting school. She embraced these deep questions and the young people who asked them, guiding them, holding them, empowering them and teaching them ways to find peace, acceptance, joy and love. In short, Pastor Susan believed it was never too early to learn the discipline of spiritual searching.
At the same time, knowing from personal experience that spiritual searching is extraordinarily demanding (and impractical to do in every waking moment), Pastor Susan also preached the virtue of “just showing up,” that is, of putting oneself in the way of service and transformation. “Just because you don’t want to go to this meeting,” she’d say, “doesn’t mean that others won’t be blessed if you do. So just show up. God will take care of the rest.”
Living a meaningful life through generosity, attentiveness, searching, and showing up is not only how Pastor Susan led her congregations. It’s also how she raised her three children (Amiee McDougal, Mandy McAllister, and Ken McAllister—apples all, who did not fall far from the tree). Susan was just as open-hearted with her three much-loved daughters-in-law (Tara McDougal, Jennifer McAllister, and Rachel Srubas—all brilliant in their candor and creativity). Susan cherished and nurtured her wise-beyond-their-years grandchildren, Emma McDougal and Jacob Paige, both of whom she admired tremendously for their ability to be simultaneously playful and awake to the complexities of the world. Pastor Susan—to her family known as “Mom,” “Susan,” “Aunt Sue,” "Grandma," and “Mommi Soukie”—would of course insist that it was she who benefitted from spending time with her kith and kin. That’s another good reason to “just show up” she believed; when you do, you learn something new.
Pastor Susan is survived by all of her kids, in-laws and grandchildren, as well as her sister and brother-in-law, Dianne and Don Nisbett, of Duncan, Ok.; her sister and brother-in-law, Cheryl and Will Rennick, of Lincoln, Ne.; her nieces, Kimberly Elizabeth Nisbett-Woods and Jennifer Raye Nisbett-James; her grand-nieces and -nephews, Ashley Elizabeth Woods-Wright, Joshua Cain and Shelly Woods, Madison Raye James, Michael Thomas James; her great-grand nieces and -nephews, Halie Woods, Jacobi Brown, Phoenix Wright and Lincoln Wright; and her ever-devoted (if sometimes grumpy) feline companion, Missy (AKA “Flapjack”).
Susan is also survived by her many friends and past parishioners, who have been praying for her, sending cards, calling and otherwise being wonderful travelers with her on life’s journey. The Monketeers and the members of the Dalton Garden Club gave her great joy. In “just showing up,” they lifted her spirits and made life worth living.
Pastor Susan’s family also wants to express tremendous gratitude for all of Susan’s doctors and nurses—especially Dr. Hosam Saad-Naguib and his staff, hospice nurse extraordinaire, Barbara Buell, social worker, Renee Potter and others who supported our family on weekends and late nights—for the smart and tender care they gave to Susan over the past months and years. These cancer care and palliative care professionals helped to give us more time with Susan and made it possible for her to be safe and comfortable as she passed from this life to the next. Thank you.
An online memorial service in celebration of Pastor Susan’s life is being planned; family and friends will be notified about the details by email.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in memory of Rev. Susan Reggin to the Elizabeth (Lib) Caldwell Scholarship Fund at McCormick Theological Seminary. Lib Caldwell was a favorite professor of Susan's and the Lib Caldwell Scholarship specifically supports women, people of color, and LGBTQI+ seminarians with their theological education expenses. You may make your gift online by going here (https://support.mccormick.edu/) and selecting “Lib Caldwell Scholarship” in the drop-down menu, or by mail to McCormick Theological Seminary, 5460 S. University Ave., Chicago, IL 60615, Attn: Development. Whether your gift is made online or by check, please indicate that the gift is in memory of Rev. Susan Reggin.