A graveside service was held for an Alabama pastor who served his congregation for more than 40 years before he died from COVID-19, and his wife, who had succumbed to the novel coronavirus two weeks earlier.
The Coosada Church of Christ posted a video of the service that was held Saturday at Elizabeth Baptist Church in Mathews, Alabama, where John Thomas, who was the pastor of the church for 41 years, and his wife, Joann, had been laid to rest.
Pastor Thomas died on Dec. 26, a fortnight after his wife, Joann, died, WSFA12 News reported. They were married for 52 years.
“We are extremely saddened and regret to have to inform you that … Brother John Thomas Senior passed away to join the Lord,” the church had earlier said on Facebook. He was a great soldier for God and we are grateful for all he contributed to this world. These times have been overwhelmingly difficult for us all and we thank you for your prayers. Please allow us some time to grieve as we deal with preparations for his home going service.”
Joann tested positive after Thanksgiving, followed by Pastor Thomas a few days later.
Joann had a fall and the family thought it was due to an asthma attack. They took her to the hospital where she tested positive for COVID-19. She died on Dec. 10, when her husband’s condition was also getting worse.
“He was in good spirit,” their son, Jerald Thomas, was quoted as saying. “He was worried about my mother and all he had was I think a stomach ache and by Tuesday he was throwing up and by the end of that week he wasn’t breathing that good, so it was quick, it was a very quick transition.”
He added, however, “There is a time to be born and a time to die; there’s a time to be pulled up and a time to be planted, so I knew then that we were ready before he knew us, so he taught us that.”
On Dec. 26, another Alabama pastor, Michael “Mike” Stancil of Fulton Bridge Baptist Church in Hamilton, also died of COVID-19.
“This church is nearly 110 years old. Never in its history have we lost a pastor while still in the pulpit,” Gary Mixon, chairman of the church’s deacon board, said in his remarks in a YouTube video. “Never has this church faced a pandemic like we’re facing now. The only way that we’ll get through this is with God’s help. We as the body of believers must fall on our knees in prayer and lift the family up.”
In Indiana, a pastor, his sister, and his elderly mother all died from the new coronavirus over the course of a week.
Pastor Jim Applegate, 54, who led Westview Christian Church in Campbellsburg for 21 years, died from the virus on Dec. 20, WKYC reported. Some 12 hours later on Dec. 21, his 83-year-old mother, Patricia Applegate, died from the virus. His older sister, Mary Jane Applegate, 59, died from the virus on Christmas Eve.
The number of cumulative confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States is more than 20.4 million with over 350,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center.