Hundreds of mourners paid their respects Saturday to the man many came to know as the "Godfather of Gospel."
One week after news broke of the Rev. Timothy D. Wright's death on April 24, friends, family, congregants and colleagues of the preacher and gospel music artist gathered at the church he had founded and ministered to – Grace Tabernacle Christian Center Church of God in Christ in Brooklyn – singing the songs that Wright himself had composed and sung.
Bishop James Gaylord, pastor Kelly Temple Church Of God In Christ in New York, told the congregation that the gathering was "a time of celebration" to honor Wright.
"This great man of God has been called to a higher place," he said.
Nine months ago, Wright had been critically injured in a three-vehicle crash that killed his wife and 14-year-old grandson. A drunk driver had hit his car head-on as he and his family were returning from a Church of God in Christ conference in Detroit on July 4, 2008.
Since the July 4 accident, the beloved Brooklyn pastor was paralyzed from the chest down but vowed to return to the pulpit at the church he and his wife, Betty, started nearly two decades ago.
"He had the determination that he'd walk again, that he'd preach again. But the body has its own clock, and he couldn't carry on," commented the Rev. Andrea Vereen of St. Mark's Holy Church in Brooklyn, according to the New York Times.
As an artist, Wright released more than a dozen gospel music recordings and was twice nominated for a Grammy for best traditional soul gospel album. His latest album, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, came out in 2007.
A memorial musical concert has been scheduled for Sunday night as a tribute to Wright. It will be held at Pilgrim Renaissance Cathedral in Brooklyn, where a homegoing life celebration has been scheduled for Monday morning.
Wright was 61 when he died at the Bronx Veterans Hospital in New York.