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Spiritual descendant of Micah

By Katherine Wartell

As written in the Bible, the prophet Micah lays out three mandates: do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God. While these words may have little meaning for some, for one Manhattan man, they are a way of life.

Jim Reed, founder of the Micah Society, is particularly interested in the part about doing justice. “It’s clear what God wants you to do,” he said.

Members of the Society, founded in 2006, work to bring awareness to justice issues through study, advocacy, financial support and direct action, Reed said.

Past works have included advocating for the restoration of Wildcat Creek, as well as encouraging the use of Fair Trade coffee in churches. The society also arranges for speakers and screenings of films on justice issues, like bringing an expert on Greensburg to speak to architectural students at K-State and showing the film, “Elisabeth of Berlin,” in a public forum, to help people understand that what happened in Nazi Germany could happen again.

Reed said their next big project is working with the Circles Campaign, launched by Move the Mountain Leadership Center, a national organization that works to end poverty. The campaign involves fostering friendships between families trying to get out of poverty and upper and middle class community members, or “allies,” who will help the family set and achieve goals.

Reed said the society is open to anyone of faith, and of any political persuasion. “No party has God’s love cornered,” he said.

Reed, who has lived in Manhattan since 1998, is a retired First Methodist pastor who also volunteers with his wife, Sherry, at K-State and K-State Wesley, where he teaches a class called, “Contemporary God Talk,” an introduction to theology for upper classmen and graduate students.

An Army veteran who served 22 years a National Guard chaplain, Reed is also an art enthusiast, who is the president elect of Friends of McCain and the founder of the Thundering Cats Big Band, composed of community members who love big band.

Though the group started as a rehearsal band, they played three shows last spring, with Reed punctuating the old, big band songs with his trombone. “I put the band together, because I knew they wouldn’t be able kick me out,” he said.

The band is approximately two-and-a-half years old, with 17 members who play saxophones, trombones, trumpets and rhythm. They’ve played for the Seaton Society and will play with Rock Creek High School in April.

Reed said his favorite songs to play are Duke Ellington’s “In a Mellow Tone,” and Glen Miller’s “Little Brown Jug.”

Reed, who grew up in Oklahoma, retired from his role as senior pastor at First Methodist Church, where he served for 9 years, in July 2007. He said he knew he wanted to be a pastor in high school, after growing up with religious influences.

He said that at a worship service in Mulvane, the pastor asked whether there was anyone in the congregation who wanted to commit their lives to “full-time Christian service.”

“I literally watched my hand go up, not wanting it to go up,” he said, but adding that, “I knew once I made that decision, that it was right.”

Reed said he had concerns because he knew that working as a pastor meant he would be around death a lot. “The fourth funeral I ever went to, I presided over,” he said.

But, working with people through their grief was one of the most important, valuable things he has done, he said.

As a pastor, Reed also officiated more than 1,000 weddings. He said he was able to work with Sherry, who was a wedding consultant. “She was an absolute pro,” he said.

Reed, who has two sons, Bryan and Aaron, said he didn’t officiate at Aaron’s wedding because he gets intensely emotional when it comes to his own family. “I’m prepared to let someone else pastor me,” he said.

For anyone interested in the Micah Society, the group meets every fourth Monday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Manhattan Library Auditorium.

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