“When a great man dies, for years the light he leaves behind him,
lies on the paths of men”
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Body of the late Pastor Wellesley Gunter
Longstanding Adventist Administrator and Pastor, Wellesley Henry Gunter, was laid to rest after a colourful ceremony with representatives from all walks of Church and community life on Sunday August 28, 2016 at the West Jamaica Conference Centre in St. James.
Born in the picturesque plains of St. Elizabeth to Arthur Gunter and Linnett Williams, destiny would rise in favour of this powerfully gracious gentleman, transforming an ordinary man into an extraordinary servant of God. Emerging from poverty, his academic sojourn led him to pursue his call to gospel ministry at the then West Indies College, which led to his graduation in the summer of 1967. The West Jamaica Conference would be the first of three conferences within which this extraordinary church administrator would leave an indelible mark as Executive Secretary, Treasurer, School Principal, Departmental Director and ASi advocate in the West, Central and North Jamaica Conferences.
Significant Life Events
Pastor Gunter and wife, Claire
On July 20, 1969, the under shepherd to many souls including Pastors Egnal Grant and Charles Brevitt, among others, knit his soul to the beautiful Claire Scarlett, described as a “choiced daughter of Springfield, St. Elizabeth”, whose beauty and radiance was not only external but beamed from within.
Two years later, the Seventh-day Adventist Church would put its seal of approval on the ministry of this then-emerging champion of Adventism, through his ordination to the gospel ministry. This further propelled and influenced his life for all times, opening up doors of ministry and opportunities of service which cemented his calling, passion and influence.
Pastor Gunter at his graduation with Dr. Patrick Allen
His thirst for growth and knowledge, led to his quest of a diploma in accounts from the Trans Word International College in 1984 and a Master of Arts Degree from the Andrews University in 1985. The Jamaica Union, at varied times, has richly benefited from his ministry experiences, accounting and financial abilities and his administrative strength.
In 1985, he accepted the call to serve the Central Jamaica Conference as its treasurer and Education Director, with distinction at various stages, until 1992. Then President, Pastor Leon B. Wellington, applaud the efforts of the treasurer in “stabilizing and growing” the field at a time that was very critical.
Candidates from one of Pastor Gunter's evangelistic exploits in Middle Quarters, St. Elizabeth
His strong performance saw another call being extended to him to serve the West Jamaica Conference as its Executive Secretary in 1992 - which call he accepted. This consistent commitment to ministry was a key consideration for the then Union President, Dr. Patrick Allen, in asking Pastor Gunter to serve as Treasurer of the newest field in 2002, the North Jamaica Conference. It was to this Conference Pastor Gunter gave the twilight years of service of his life, before officially retiring in 2009. Last of his many interns, Pastor Omar Oliphant recounts his 10 year strategic plan for the then Reid’s Friendship District and for which Pastor Gunter had successfully baptised over 100 souls in his final year of pastoral ministry .
Pastor Gunter in dialogue with NJC President, Pastor Karl Archer
As time progressed, Pastor Gunter’s physical strength did not weaken his spiritual depth. He spent many days with his wife, the lifelong partner of his days holding her hand and laying beside her in the moments of her life that perhaps matters the most.
In a thanksgiving service richly punctuated with music and testimonies, tributes and reflections of his personal, family and professional life, tears flowed as precious memories flowed from memory lane from speaker after speaker.
“Pastor Gunter served North with diligence and zeal”, said Pastor Karl Archer, president of the North Jamaica Conference. “He was an outstanding preacher and a solid administrator. He loved workers and sought to assist them in various ways. Our prayers and condolences are with the members of his family".
Pastor Glen O. Samuels delivering the Word at the Thanksgiving Service
The world-renown Pastor Glen O. Samuels, himself baptised by Pastor Gunter, delivered a stirring message from the Apostle Paul’s admonition to “Hold Fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for he is faithful that promised” (Hebrews 10:23), citing rich experiences of his pastoral life which showed how caring Pastor Gunter had been in reaching, seeking and leading him to baptism. “Ministry”, said Pastor Samuels in reference to Pastor Gunter’s life, “is not what you do but who you are”.
Pastor Gunter fell asleep in Christ on August 6, 2016 and is survived by his wife, Claire, their four children, brother, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and host of relatives and friends. He served the Church for over 40 years an died at age 81.
"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints" (Psalm 116:15).