In sermon after plane crash that killed 5 members, pastor reflects on 'God of comfort amidst chaos'

Jamie Trussell, Harvest Church’s ministry development and teaching pastor, speaks on Sunday, Jan. 22.
Jamie Trussell, Harvest Church’s ministry development and teaching pastor, speaks on Sunday, Jan. 22. | Harvest Church/Screenshot

On the first Sunday since four Harvest Church members died in a plane crash, congregants gathered at the Germantown, Tennessee, church to hear a message about God’s promises and faithfulness amid suffering. 

On Jan. 17, the Memphis-area church lost an executive pastor, an elder, and two staff members when the plane Steve Tucker was piloting crashed in a Texas field. Senior pastor Kennon Vaughan, who founded both Harvest Church and Downline Ministries, was the sole survivor and remains in the hospital in stable condition.

In a message delivered Sunday morning, Jamie Trussell, Harvest’s ministry development and teaching pastor, said the church has been overwhelmed by “the outpouring of love and support” it has been shown over the last week. 

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“To all the churches and believers across the country and, honestly, across the world that have sought to provide us comfort and cover us in prayer — please know that, from us to you, we are forever and immensely grateful,” he said. 

Trussell told Harvest Church members, “This past week has been your finest moment. ... I know what it means for Jesus to say in John 13 that everyone will know you are my disciples by the way you love one another. Your actions this week were the profound sermon my heart needed.”

Trussell said, “We turn to [God’s] Word knowing this: that in turning to the Scriptures we’re actually turning to God Himself. For we believe in His Word God still speaks, and in speaking, God promises to be a God of comfort amidst chaos.”

During the service, congregants sang songs full of words of comfort, including “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less,” “Crown Him with Many Crowns,” “Yet Not I But Through Christ in Me,” and “When Peace Like a River.” Cathy Tucker, whose husband was killed in the accident, helped lead worship.

Trussell’s sermon focused on Romans 8:18–22, which reads, in part: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

“If you’re like me, it is that tension that has defined this week — suffering and glory, pain and promises, anticipation for a future actuality,” he said. "If you put the two on a scale, Paul says the glory of the life to come far outweighs the suffering of today."

“So then why does it hurt so bad?” Trussell said. “If you’ve corrected my perspective and I know future glory outweighs earthly pain, why does it still feel like it feels?”

The pastor said that verse 19 answered such a question: “‘For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God’ — now that phrase, ‘revealing of the sons of God,’ that is a future state,” he said. “That is a hope and longing for and begging for an existence we have not yet tasted.”

“We have these longings because things hurt, but we have hope because there was a promise, and that promise was fulfilled when God came to Earth in the person of His Son, lived a sinless life, took His wrath upon Himself, died on that cross, rose from the dead so that we can be called children of God,” he said. “But even so, suffering and glory continues.”

Trussell reminded congregants that the pain they are feeling now is going to produce something new: “Just like the pain in childbirth progresses to new life, the pain we’re feeling now progresses till we get to glory, we see Jesus, and in the revealing of the sons of God we become something we have never been before — glorified body, restored, sin removed, looking like our Savior.”

Citing Romans 8:26, Trussell stressed that God doesn’t let His people suffer alone: “Someone else is involved in that groaning—that my groaning to which I could not find words is taken by the Holy Spirit, he assigns the proper words, and he takes it to our Father. He knows we’re groaning.”

Just like the four church leaders who “flew into glory,” Trussell reminded the congregation, “One day, all of us who are in Christ, we get to fly home too.”

The funeral for executive pastor Bill Garner was Saturday, while the visitation and memorial service for Steve Tucker, a Harvest elder, will be held Saturday. A funeral service for church member Tyler Patterson will be held next Sunday. 

"One of the core values at Harvest is family and Tyler took that to heart — embodying every aspect of what it is to lead and love his family. Please keep his wife Mary Elizabeth 'Emme,' his daughter Elsie, his son JB, and his extended family in your prayers,” the church wrote in an update Wednesday.

The church also revealed that Pastor Vaughan is “doing well in his recovery,” though he is in pain and is being treated for a minor infection. 

“Kennon is doing extremely well in his progress overall and the doctors continue to be encouraged with how quickly he has progressed,” the church said. “We know that this is due to the many prayers of saints across the county and world interceding on his behalf. For that we are eternally grateful. The Lord is doing a mighty work. Blessed be His name!”

Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at:

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