Church declares love for pastor who died by suicide after exposure of secret trans persona

Mayor of Smiths Station, Alabama, F.L. 'Bubba' Copeland, who also serves as pastor of First Baptist Church of Phenix City, reportedly has a transgender persona named Brittini Blaire Summerlin.
Mayor of Smiths Station, Alabama, F.L. "Bubba" Copeland, who also serves as pastor of First Baptist Church of Phenix City, reportedly has a transgender persona named Brittini Blaire Summerlin. | YouTube/Beam 7; Screenshot/Reddit

The First Baptist Church of Phenix City in Alabama declared its love for the late pastor and mayor of Smiths Station, F.L. "Bubba" Copeland, just days after he died by suicide following a news report exposing his secret online life as a "transgender curvy girl," which he said was a hobby to relieve stress.

"Despite what may have been implied in the media, members of this church have been steadfast in their love and concern for our pastor," an unidentified church official said during a 16-minute broadcast of Sunday's service on Facebook.

"I cannot tell you that I fully understand or can explain the scope of this tragedy. There are some things, though, that I do know are absolutely true. I know that my friend Bubba Copeland loved this church and its people. And I know that our testimony as Christians is not defined as much about how we act in the good times. It's how we act in the difficult times," the official added.

Get Our Latest News for FREE

Subscribe to get daily/weekly email with the top stories (plus special offers!) from The Christian Post. Be the first to know.

Calls made to the church by The Christian Post on Monday went unanswered. The church official said at the end of the broadcast that the usual sermon would be replaced by a time of private grieving.

"We're here today as a Christian family to grieve and comfort each other. And at this time, we will be ending our internet broadcast service. What follows will be a time of togetherness among our extended church family. An opportunity to express our sorrow and our love," he said.

In a report published last Wednesday, 1819 News, a news website launched by the conservative think tank Alabama Policy Institute, highlighted photos from several social media accounts operated by Copeland, including on Reddit, where he presented himself as a transgender woman under the pseudonym Brittini Blaire Summerlin.

Copeland, 49, who was married with children, is pictured wearing makeup, a blonde wig, and even some of his wife's clothes. Using the Summerlin persona, the Baptist pastor regularly commented on posts saying he was a "thick transgender woman." The account is documented sharing self-authored transgender fiction and erotica as well as transgender pornography.

Copeland was accused of encouraging other transgender individuals to go on Hormone Replacement Therapy.

Responding to the report during his final public address to his church on Wednesday, Copeland said his online behavior was a hobby to relieve stress and didn't reflect who he was as a person. He also framed the 1819 News report as "an internet attack."

"Congregation, church, Facebook, I have been an object of an internet attack. An article that was written about my capacity as a mayor, capacity as a pastor," Copeland said.

"The article is not who or what I am. Yes, I have taken pictures with my wife in the privacy of our home in an attempt of humor because I know I'm not a handsome man, nor a beautiful woman either. I apologize for any embarrassment caused by my private personal life that has gone publicly," he said.

Two days after addressing his church, the Lee County Sherrif's Office announced that Pastor Copeland shot himself as they were pursuing his vehicle on Lee Road 275 following calls for a welfare check at about 4:15 p.m. Officials say Copeland exited the vehicle and shot himself with a handgun.

While the Alabama Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, with which FBC Phenix City is affiliated, told The Alabama Baptist that Copeland's secret life was something that needed to be addressed by his church, leaders of the Alabama Baptist State Convention and Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions called it "unbiblical" behavior in a statement Thursday.

"We have become aware of the alleged unbiblical behavior related to the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Phenix City. We are praying for the leaders of the church family as they seek to determine the truth concerning these accusations," the statement said. 

"As the people of God, we pray for the pastor and his family as well. We are in consultation with the Russell Baptist Association's leadership as they endeavor to assist the First Baptist family during this critical time of need."

An obituary published by the church said a viewing of Copeland's remains will take place on Wednesday from 4:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. at Vance Brooks Funeral Home in Phenix City. His funeral service will be held at 3 p.m. EST on Thursday at First Baptist Church in Phenix City.

Copeland leaves behind his widow, Angela Simpson Copeland, a son, and two stepdaughters, along with his parents, siblings and other family members.

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

Was this article helpful?

Help keep The Christian Post free for everyone.

By making a recurring donation or a one-time donation of any amount, you're helping to keep CP's articles free and accessible for everyone.

We’re sorry to hear that.

Hope you’ll give us another try and check out some other articles. Return to homepage.

Most Popular

More Articles