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Tennessee church asks for prayers after 4 members killed, pastor injured in plane crash

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Four Tennessee church members died Tuesday after a small plane crashed while approaching a Texas airport. |

A Tennessee church has asked for prayers after four congregation members died in a small plane crash that also left the church’s senior pastor seriously injured.

On Tuesday morning, a single-engine Piper PA-46 plane crashed south of the Yoakum Municipal Airport in Texas, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Of the five people on board, one flight crew member and three passengers died, according to the FAA, and the plane was "destroyed" in the crash.

In a statement, Harvest Church, located in the Memphis suburb of Germantown, revealed that the plane's passengers were members of the church. The church identified the four people killed as Bill Garner, the church’s executive vice president; Steve Tucker, a church elder; and Tyler Patterson and Tyler Springer.

“All were beloved members of Harvest Church and their loss currently leaves us without the proper words to articulate our grief,” the statement said.

The church said that Senior Pastor Kennon Vaughan, the only survivor of the crash, “is in stable condition in a Texas hospital.”

“We ask for your prayers and kindly request that the families of all involved are given the proper space to grieve at this time,” it said. “We will provide more information as it is received. We covet your prayers.”

The statement concluded with 1 Thessalonians 4:13: “But we do not want you to be uniformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others who have no hope.”

In a Wednesday morning update, the church revealed that Vaughan is undergoing surgery to repair injuries to his abdomen, but updates have been “positive.”

"We rejoice this morning in God’s goodness," the church wrote. "Kennon is breathing on his own and has been able to communicate some through writing."

The church added on Thursday morning: "The primary prayer request right now is that no infections will develop as the surgeons had to repair several internal injuries. Please pray for God's hand to continually bring healing to Kennon's body and for the strength of God's spirit to sustain Kathryn who remains by his side. Kennon has been communicative today and undoubtedly feels your prayers."

The plane was reportedly headed to Yoakum, Texas, when it crashed. One of Harvest Church's partners is located about two hours from where the crash occurred, according to the church's website.

Tucker was the pilot of the plane.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the cause of the crash. The plane crashed "under unknown circumstances," the NTSB said in a statement, the AP reported. An NTSB investigator will arrive at the scene Wednesday to examine the plane.

The crash comes just days after Clint Clifton, a church planter with the North American Mission Board, died in a plane crash in Georgia. Clifton was the only person on the plane and was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.

“God generously gifted Clint in so many ways. He had a pastor’s heart and was a talented church planter with a passion for reaching people for Christ. He loved what we do here at NAMB and poured his heart and life into it. We miss him already and he leaves a void that can’t be filled,” NAMB President Kevin Ezell wrote. 

“As we pray for and encourage Clint’s family and closest friends, let’s all take care of each other as we walk through the grief and shock of this moment. Nothing can prepare you for news like this, but we have a Savior who will carry us and sustain us in the days ahead.”

In a social media post, pastor and author David Platt mourned Clifton’s passing.

“Words can't express the respect I have for Clint as a husband, dad, church planter, & friend. I'm stunned & really sad. And I really long for the day when news like this is no more,” he wrote. “Please pray for Clint's amazing wife, Jennifer, & their incredible kids.”

Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: leah.klett@christianpost.com

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