(Photo: Screen Grab via WGME 13)
A beloved Pentecostal preacher from Biddeford, Maine, who thought he would never find love again after his wife died in 2009, was killed Saturday in a tragic car crash along with the woman who made him change his mind to marry again just a year ago.
Less than 24 hours after the crash on Sunday evening, members and well-wishers packed the pews of Victory Chapel in Biddeford and celebrated the lives of Joel McClain, 77, who pastored at the church for 31 years and his new wife, Maxine, 77, in a worship service to God according to The Portland Press Herald.
The pastor's daughter, Beatrix Tucci of Portland, told the Press Herald that the couple were returning to Biddeford from Beulah Fellowship Family Campground in Canterbury, N.H., on Saturday where he was leading services for a weekend-long convention.
They were expected to attend the Sunday evening service but they never made it back.
Police say Pastor McLain was driving his Ford Edge along Route 202 in Barrington, N.H., about 11:35 p.m. Saturday when a Ford Ranger pick-up truck driven by John Shaw, 48, of Barrington, jumped the centerline and crashed into the pastor's vehicle.
He died on the spot, according to N.H. State police, while Maxine who was in the front passenger seat succumbed to her injuries at the Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.H.
At the service on Sunday, congregants clapped, sang hymns and played the tambourine as the service the pastor was supposed to attend went on as planned.
"It was what he would have wanted, to see the work go on," said Tucci of her father.
She said when her mother, Pauline, died in 2009, her father didn't think he would marry again. Those feelings changed one day when he was walking down the aisle of the church and laid eyes on Maxine who used to attend church when her father first started preaching.
She said Maxine later moved to Florida but she would always visit the church whenever she was in town to visit relatives.
Maxine and her father married after a short courtship on the phone last August, she said.
"They told me, 'You really tied the knot good,"' said the Rev. Stephen Reynolds of Scarborough, who performed the ceremony.
They acted "like teenagers again," recalled Reynolds. "They just had fun. They really enjoyed each other."