John Nash was a trailblazer, a pastor and church planter at a time when there were few African American leaders in the Christian Reformed Church. He was also part of the team that developed the annual Black and Reformed Conference. Nash died on Nov. 3 after a two-year struggle with cancer. He was 71.
Nash came to faith in Christ while serving in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War. After discharge in 1970 he resumed his education, graduating from Fayetteville State University in North Carolina with a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education. Continuing his previous affiliation with the Navigators, a parachurch organization, he became a prominent leader in the discipleship and training of African-American students.
In 1976, after joining the staff of Maynard Jackson, the first black mayor of Atlanta, Nash was responsible for establishing the prayer room at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. In 1981, encouraged by his pastor, Nash enrolled at Atlanta’s Interdenominational Seminary and graduated with an M.Div. He pursued further studies at Calvin Theological Seminary and, after ordination, returned to Atlanta and planted Christ Community (CRC) Church.
For the next 25 years, Nash taught at Atlanta’s Beulah Heights University, where he is remembered as the animated professor in tennis shoes with a unique style of teaching marriage and family studies. He had a passion to counsel and nurture married couples, help heal broken families, and was quick to engage people in prayer, even strangers he met on the street.
From 2011 until the time of his death, Nash was pastor of what is now called New Beginnings International Worship Center in McDonough, Ga. He is survived by Kathy, his wife of 42 years, three sons, a daughter-in-law, and four grandchildren.