Caribbean pastor battles for his life in Harlem nursing home

Caribbean pastor battles for his life in Harlem nursing home
Visitors, donning protective gear, flank Rev. Moore at the Henry J. Carter Specialty Hospital and Nursing Facility, 1752 Park Ave., Harlem. .
Photo by Nelson A. King

The Rev. Reginald Euclid Moore, a very vibrant Methodist Church Minister who served in the Chateaubelair-Kingstown Circuit in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the 1970s, is now battling for his life in a Harlem nursing home.

The Nevisian-born Moore, 77, who received this theological training at the University of the West Indies at Mona, Jamaica and also worked as a minister in Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago before migrating to New York in 1980 — is now lying helpless at the Henry J. Carter Specialty Hospital and Nursing Facility, 1752 Park Ave., Harlem, after suffering a series of strokes.

Some former parishioners, and their families, who Rev. Moore mentored as youths in the town of Chateaubelair in the 1970s, made a special visit at his bedside on Dec. 30, despite the snowy conditions.

Hewitt James, a former school teacher and police officer in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, trekked from Philadelphia, Pa to see Rev. Moore for the very first time since the 1970s.

Ralphie Cunningham and Ann Franklin, otherwise known as Yvonne “Dan Dan” Nash, as well as a reporter, drove from Brooklyn. Cunningham and the reporter brought along their wives.

Cunningham and Franklin were not totally surprised to witness Rev. Moore’s condition, since they had seen him on preview occasions; but James and the reporter were shocked about his medical fate, as he depends on others for ADL (Activities of Daily Living) needs.

The former pastor of Beulah Wesleyan Methodist and Mt. Calvary United Methodist Churches, and assistant pastor at Salem United Methodist Church — all in Harlem — is breathing with the aid of a tracheostomy and is being tube-fed.

“Believe you me, he’s in good shape now, compared to the shape he was in [when he suffered his first stroke in 2016 and was taken to the Intensive Care Unit at Harlem Hospital],” said Franklin, who — like James, Cunningham and the reporter — was a member of Clubland, the youth arm of the Chateaubelair Methodist Church, which Rev. Moore guided in the early-to-mid-1970s, in a Caribbean Life interview.

“He can scratch his head now,” added Franklin, who works as a nursing assistant at a nursing facility in Brooklyn and worships at the Miracle Temple Ministries, a Pentecostal church, attended primarily by Vincentians and Jamaicans, in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn. “He did not know anybody around him. Thank God, he’s still here. We can still see him.”

“His situation, to me, is unfortunate,” chimed in Cunningham, who lived at the Moore’s, for six months, in Harlem when he migrated to New York in 1996. “But I think he made a lot of progress from the last time I saw him [in 2016].”

Robin Moore, 40, Rev. Moore’s second of three sons, the only one born in St. Vincent and the Grenadines — the eldest, Lathen, was born in Guyana; and the youngest, Nigel, was born in Trinidad and Tobago – said, when his dad suffered a “massive stroke” in 2016, “he couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe by himself.

“He was basically in a comatose state, and he came out in March, 2016,” said Robin, who has followed his dad’s footsteps in pursuing the ministry. Robin serves as assistant pastor at Beulah Wesleyan Methodist Church, where Rev. Moore served as pastor, when he first arrived in the US.

“Currently, he’s on a ventilator and trachea,” added Robin, expressing contrition about his dad’s medical state “because I would want him to witness more of my ministries and the seeds that he planted to give me a living.

“I’m happy that he’s still living and that he still recognizes me,” continued Robin, who, despite his very busy schedule, still visits his dad on an almost daily basis. “He keeps fighting; he never gives up.

“When he was in ICU (Intensive Care Unit), nobody gave him hope — the doctors and nurses — because they figured, since he was older, he will never come out of it (coma),” Robin said. “His understanding came back. I’ll read and sing to him from the Methodist Hymn book.”

Franklin, who had lived at the Moore’s in Cane Grove in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, after they left the Chateaubelair Methodist Church, said Rev. Moore underwent surgery in 2013 for a pinched nerve and was at another rehabilitation center in Harlem until the next year.

While at Cane Grove, Rev. Moore served the Methodist churches in the Vincentian towns of Barrouallie and Layou, and the villages of Hope and Chauncey, among others.

After the visitors, on Dec. 30, held hands and prayed fervently at Rev. Moore’s bedside, James noted Rev. Moore’s “indelible contribution to the church and community as a whole,” when he served in the ministry in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“Growing up in the Methodist Church as a youngster, I must say that the reverend has left the most lasting and positive impression on me, fulfilling the role as leader of the entire local church community for which he was charged,” he told Caribbean Life. “His ability to attend to the needs of both young and old in the church was remarkable indeed. It was very clear that Rev. Moore was loved by the congregation, as he and his family proved to be lovable.

“He was the one minister who exhibited a good understanding on how to work with young people successfully,” James added. “This he demonstrated with the church’s youth group, originally known as the ‘Methodist Youth Fellowship.’ Rev. Moore, rebranded Chateaubelair’s branch as ‘Club Land,’ getting us more actively involved and, of course, highlighting the relevance and importance of youth in the church, that young people could lead a balance spiritual and pragmatic life.”

Clubland held several concerts in Chateaubelair and in other communities, such as Rose Hall and Layou, “displaying drama, art, songs and dances, some of which Rev. Moore created himself,” James said.

“I can attest to the fact that Rev. Moore wielded more influence on the church’s youth than any other minister I have witnessed,” he affirmed.

Franklin and Cunningham agreed wholeheartedly.

“He was a people’s person,” Franklin said. “He was down-to-earth with people. He did not consider himself to be above us.

“Rev. Moore was lovable, really lovable,” Franklin emphasized. “He ‘passed through’ Chateaubelair, and everybody gravitated towards him.”

Cunningham said: “I don’t think there was anybody in Chateaubelair like Rev. [Moore]. He was very down-to-earth.”

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