The Rev. John McCreight, who served in four Beaufort County churches after retiring to Hilton Head Island in 1986, died Saturday at Coastal Carolina Hospital at age 94.
He served on an interim basis numerous times, filling a variety of roles, at the First Presbyterian churches in Beaufort and on Hilton Head, as well as Lowcountry Presbyterian in Bluffton. For many years, he led a Bible study at Lowcountry Presbyterian, where his son, Bob, was once an interim pastor.
McCreight also helped the Rev. John M. Miller at his Chapel Without Walls on Hilton Head.
“John was just a fantastic minister and a great friend,” Miller said.
Miller often joked about McCreight’s trademark, rumbling voice: “I said that if it’s not the way God sounds, it’s the way He should sound.”
McCreight preached his last sermon of a 64-year career at the Chapel Without Walls in November 2011.
“It was the largest attendance ever at the Chapel,” Miller said.
McCreight, then 88, sat to deliver his message.
“God is gracious,” McCreight said. “The essence is that God accepts us when we are unacceptable. Since God has been gracious to us, we should be gracious to others.”
He said grace to others is not always instantly rewarded. The previous week, McCreight had gotten a letter from a man thanking him for helping him through his teenage years — in the mid-1960s.
Here, McCreight was known by pastors to be thorough and dependable.
McCreight said his final sermon was the 2,743rd one he had delivered in a lifetime of leading Presbyterian churches of all sizes in six states. He said he married 400 couples, baptized 804 people and led 475 funerals.
He was practically born in the church. McCreight’s grandfather, father, father-in-law, brother-in-law and two cousins all were ministers, as well as a son. He was a biblical scholar, holding a doctorate degree.
His late wife, Joann, was active at First Presbyterian on Hilton Head. And they traveled a lot. McCreight said when he retired from his ministries that they had been to all 50 states and 82 countries.
He was a Scotsman with family roots in Fairfield County, South Carolina. But he was reared in the small town of New Concord, Ohio, where he played high school football with John Glenn, the astronaut and senator who made their hometown famous.
Survivors include four children and a number grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Miller said a memorial service will be held at a later date.