Members of the Thankful Baptist Church in Rome, Ga., were thrown into world of sorrow Sunday night after their pastor, Nim Russell, 55, was killed in a car accident hours after celebrating his 23rd year as their leader in a powerful worship service. His wife, Julia, was also injured.
"Right now we are really grieving; we have really been given a shock," Carlton Gibson, associate pastor at Thankful Baptist Church, told CBS Atlanta surrounded by mourning parishioners. "We never expected this to happen. In fact, we were just ministering to our pastor yesterday for his 23rd anniversary here at Thankful."
Church members also shared their grief over the loss in a message on their Facebook page shortly after the pastor's death.
"Our hearts are heavy and saddened at the loss of our pastor Nim Russell. The last thing he told us today at the last anniversary service was to "hash tag" this: TO GOD BE THE GLORY! Even at this time, we must continue to remember, TO GOD BE THE GLORY!" it said.
"As we continue to lift up our first lady who was also in the accident…PRAY! For the children, grandchildren and church family...PRAY! May God keep us in this hour," it ended.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Monday that the pastor had a head-on collision with an alleged drunk driver in Bartow County.
Georgia State Patrol said he was driving eastbound on Georgia 140 at about 8:30 p.m. Sunday when a westbound pickup truck crossed the center of the line hitting the pastor's 2007 Mercedes Benz E350 head-on.
Russell was killed in the crash and his wife was taken to Floyd Medical Center.
Michelle Blum, 47, the driver of the 2014 Dodge Ram pickup truck and a passenger, Charles Louis Blum III, were also taken to Floyd Medical Center.
Late Monday morning Blum was charged with first-degree vehicular homicide. She was also charged with driving under the influence, serious injury by vehicle and driving on the wrong side of the road without headlights.
"He loved his wife dearly. He had two daughters that he loved dearly, a son he loved dearly and those grand babies. He really loved those grand babies. He really was a family person," Gibson added. "He was an awesome, awesome vessel for the Lord."