Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Rev Ewart Peter Riemer

The Rev Ewart Peter Riemer passed into the presence of the King on 3rd July 1942 in his ninety-eighth year.

Ewart was born of Lutheran parents and at the age of 23, reading the Bible while he was ill in a New York hospital, he was deeply convicted of sin but while studying the Gospel of John 3:16 found the way to be made righteous before God through the death of Jesus Christ his Lord and Saviour. He discovered believers’ baptism in his own study of the New Testament and followed the light as he saw it. Soon afterwards he was led to enter Rochester College where the money he had saved was used to study for the ministry.

In Ewart's third year at college a professor read to the students an appeal, from the Rev Hugo Gutsche of King William’s Town, for a helper. It was God’s call to the young man; he was ordained, married to a young lady who was baptised the same evening as himself, and set sail for South Africa. The young couple reached East London on 6th June 1874.

From 1874 to 1878 Hugo and Ewart together served the one church – the "German Baptist Church in British Kaffraria". So greatly was the work blessed that in 1878 the one church became two, brother Hugo remaining pastor of King William’s Town and its branches while brother Ewart became pastor of Berlin and its branches.

In 1890 Ewart left Berlin to become the Minister of the Porter Street Church, East London, but in 1893 a long illness led to his resignation, which the church very reluctantly accepted. As a token of affection the German and British Churches made him a presentation of 160 pounds. Having always given his “tenth” to the Lord, Mr. Riemer handed 16 pounds to the Baptist Union to start a fund for disabled ministers. That was the first contribution to the pension fund of today.

In 1901 a voyage to Germany greatly improved his health and in 1929 he returned to East London and became a member of the Porter Street Church, where he was beloved by all to the end of his days.

During his ministry in South Africa, Mr Riemer baptized 250 believers. God also used him to build and open five churches free of debt. It was in keeping with the supreme passion of his life, the salvation of souls, that he was one of the prime movers in the foundation of the South African Baptist Missionary Society, on the original committee of which he served.

A man of simple piety, deep conviction and earnest devotion to his Lord, the Rev Ewart Peter Riemer will be remembered with special honour as one of the pioneers of our cause.

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