The RCA Mourns the Loss of James Seawood

James Seawood, who long served the RCA and the wider world as a prominent leader and social and civil rights activist, died Sunday, January 12, at age 66.

Most recently, Seawood served as pastor of Brighton Heights Reformed Church in Staten Island, New York.

Terry Troia, executive director of Project Hospitality, a ministry to people who are homeless on Staten Island, worked closely with Seawood, who was a member of the ministry's board of directors. She writes: "I ask your prayer[s] for his family and for the people of Brighton Heights Reformed Church as they mourn the loss of their pastor. He was a champion for social justice, a brave and kind, insightful, and gentle God fearing Christian leader."

When Seawood came to Brighton Heights Reformed in 2002, the congregation numbered about 35. With Seawood's leadership, it has grown into a vibrant gathering of about 140 believers who serve each other and their community.

In 2008 Seawood was elected vice president of General Synod, and the following year he became president of that body. He was the second black person to serve the RCA in those offices. His election coincided with the RCA's emphasis on becoming more multiracial in the context of revitalizing congregations and planting new churches.

In 2010 Seawood led a delegation of RCA representatives on a humanitarian mission to Haiti after an earthquake devastated that country. Members of the delegation observed conditions, visited churches, and reported back to the General Synod.

Before serving as Brighton Heights' pastor and president of synod, Seawood had served as dean of students at New Brunswick Theological Seminary; as pastor of Cambria Heights Community Church in Cambria Heights, New York; and as a United States Army chaplain.

Seawood also served as president of and chair of clergy relations for the Classis of New York, on the executive committee of the Synod of New York, and as president of the Staten Island Council of Churches. He held a bachelor of science degree from the University of Arkansas, a master of divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary, and a master of social work degree from Rutgers University.

Derrick Jones, supervisor of mission in Africa for the RCA, writes, "As one of my pastoral predecessors at the Cambria Heights Community Church, Queens, New York, Rev. Seawood showed himself to be a colleague, friend, and supporter in ministry. Throughout my tenure as a Global Mission supervisor, Seawood had a real passion for Africa, the sharing of the gospel and empowerment of all peoples. For one full month of speaking deputation on the east coast, he would often host mission partner personnel from Africa (Simon Muntolol, Maasai Well Project, Kenya; Efraim Oppelt, United Ministry of Service and Witness, South Africa). As president of General Synod in April 2010, Seawood traveled with me and the RCA delegation for the first well dedication ceremony of the Maasai Well Project.

"Indeed, Seawood will be missed by many, especially his wife, family, the Brighton Heights Church, the African American Council, friends, and his RCA family. In this time of bereavement, may the Lord grant the nearness of his presence and the blessing of his unfailing hand."

Funeral arrangements for James Seawood

Friday, January 24
Viewing from 3:00-5:00 pm, and also 7:00-8:00 pm

Saturday, January 25
Viewing from 9:00-10:30 am
Funeral at 11 am

All held at Brighton Heights Reformed Church, 320 St. Marks Place, Staten Island, NY.

Posted 1/13/14

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