A pastor who urged his congregation to take Covid-19 seriously has died of the virus aged 49. Pastor Michael “Mike” Stancil of Fulton Bridge Baptist Church in Hamilton, Alabama, passed away on Saturday after contracting the virus, his family said.
On Sunday, Gary Mixon, chairman of the church’s deacon board, paid tribute to pastor Stancil and asked the church to uphold the grieving family as they grieve. Stancil is survived by his wife, Michelle, and two children, Josh and and Lexi.
"You know, the church has lost a pastor but the family has lost a husband, a father, a son, we’re all hurting," Mixon said. "We need as a church, and the body of believers to lift this family up. Not only Michelle and the children and the family but the church."
He added: "This church is nearly 110 years old. Never in its history have we lost a pastor while still in the pulpit. Never has this church faced a pandemic like we’re facing now. The only way that we’ll get through this is with God’s help. We as the body of believers must fall on our knees in prayer and lift the family up."
Ever since the pandemic hit the US, Stancil was committed to keeping his church covid-secure and endeavoured to protect the health of his congregants as much as possible by following all the appropriate health guidelines.
Church secretary Shirley Mitchell told US outlet the Christian Post that they had heeded all the necessary precautions at the building in order to try and keep people safe from the virus.
“We don’t let anybody have funerals, weddings, we met outside during the summer months, we broadcast on YouTube," she said.
Mitchell said that at one point it looked as if pastor Stancil was going to recover from the virus. However, after contracting an additional infection, his condition deteriorated.
"We believe that everything that was to be done was being done for him. For some reason God chose this time for him to go,” she said. “I don’t know who God is going to send us for our next pastor but he’s going to have some big shoes to fill.”