The congregation of the First Baptist Church in Cayman has received word that founding pastor Herbert Willingham Neely died on July 9, at the age of 87, in South Carolina. He served in Cayman for 17 years.
A graduate of Wofford College, he received his master of divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Pastor Neely served two congregations in South Carolina when he was called to the mission field.
He and his wife, the late Jacqulyn Sloan Neely, were commissioned as Southern Baptist Missionaries in 1960. They served in Zimbabwe for 16 years before coming to Cayman in 1977.
When he registered with government as a marriage officer, his affiliation was listed as “Baptist Mission.” Starting in the Neelys’ home, the congregation met at a number of temporary locations before building its church on Smith Road in 1979. The congregation moved to its current location on Crewe Road in 1997. The Smith Road site is now a campus of Cayman Prep School.
The Cayman Islands Who’s Who and Business Guide for 1990 states that Pastor Neely worked with the First Baptist Church from its inception. He belonged to the Cayman Ministers Association and was its secretary for a time.
Pastor Neely is survived by sons Wesley, Nigel and Herbert Jr. and their spouses; daughters, Bess and Margaret-Ann and their spouses; 12 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Funeral services were held on July 11.
Memorials in honor of Pastor Neely may be sent to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, in care of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, P.O. Box 6767 Richmond, VA 23230-0767. Condolences may be left online at www.jmdunbar.com.