Friends and family of Barry K. Hargrove, a beloved Baltimore preacher and social justice champion, are now mourning his death and getting ready to celebrate his life after he died last Friday of a heart attack. He was 51.
A report in The Baltimore Sun said Hargrove passed away at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
"Pastor Hargrove was hardworking, not only for our church but for our community. He wanted to make a difference," Rita Smith, a trustee and a founding member of Hargrove's church, told The Baltimore Sun.
Hargrove had been the church's senior pastor since 2006.
"He always said there was more that we could do for the community that was positive. He wanted to leave a footprint," she said. "He wanted our church to be a light in the community, and until his last breath, he was making plans for the church and community."
Hargrove explained on LinkedIn that under his leadership, the church focused in a major way on health and wellness, social justice, community partnerships and outreach. He encouraged his congregation to exercise and practice good nutrition habits and to participate in local politics.
"Among our many activities are the '100% Project' to be sure all eligible members are registered to vote and actually participate in the electoral process. We partner with the African American Ministers Leadership Council to facilitate educational opportunities toward this end. We partner with several community entities to provide civic participation education throughout the year," he said.
Members such as church deacon Wanda D. Wilkerson described him as more than a pastor.
"Pastor Hargrove was just not a pastor, he was a friend," she said. "I was looking for a new church, and when I came to Prince of Peace, I gave my testimony. I'm a recovering addict, have been now for 22 years, but when I finished, Pastor Hargrove said, 'God told me there was something special about you.' He made me stay focused on God. He told me that Christ was my home," she said.
"As a pastor, he was so steadfast, and his favorite saying was, 'We're going to move mountains.' He was just an awesome pastor," Wilkerson added. "He worked so hard and saw the light at the end of the tunnel."
Pastor Hargrove, who received a kidney transplant twice in his life, was passionate about helping others who struggled with kidney disease. He raised funds for that cause through the Rappel for Kidney Health program and served as a spokesman and religious affairs adviser for the National Kidney Foundation of Maryland, The Baltimore Sun said.
"He gave a lot of support to everybody. He was open, honest, a kind and gentle soul who was very loving," Raymond A. Harris, a kidney transplant recipient, who met Hargrove three years ago while volunteering said.
"He was inspirational and motivational. Our paths crossed for a reason through kidney disease," he said. "I really looked up to him. He was a friend, pastor ... and a mentor."
Hargrove is survived by his parents, a sister, Bernika Simmons of Newark, New Jersey; a nephew and a niece, as well as longtime friend, Aleta Williams of Washington.
A viewing will be held on Friday, Oct. 13 at the Prince of Peace Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland. A wake in his honor is set for 11 a.m. to noon Oct. 14 at the Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church in Baltimore. His funeral service will take place at the same venue beginning at noon.