An Alabama pastor who urged his congregation to abide by local and federal COVID-19 health guidelines passed away from the virus Sunday, TAB Media reported. The pastor was 49 years old at the time of his death.
Michael “Mike” Stancil of Fulton Bridge Baptist Church in Hamilton, Alabama, succumbed to the coronavirus after a six-week battle with the deadly disease. TAB Media wrote that the pastor was easily described by many as “a great friend, pastor, husband, and father.”
During an online worship service on Sunday, chairman of the church’s deacon board Gary Mixon spoke about Stancil’s passing.
“You know, the church has lost a pastor, but the family has lost a husband, a father, a son, we’re all hurting. 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,” Mixon said in a video posted on the church’s YouTube channel.
“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,” he added.
Church secretary Shirley Mitchell told the Christian Post that since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pastor Stancil and the leaders had bent over backwards to ensure the church was following the necessary health guidelines.
“We don’t let anybody have funerals, weddings, we met outside during the summer months, we broadcast on YouTube,” Mitchell said.
While Mitchell noted that several members of Fulton Bridge had contracted the virus, they had all recovered. When Stancil got sick about six weeks ago, the congregation assumed he would get better as well.
While it looked like Stancil was on the road to recovery, he developed a staph infection which complicated matters.
“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,” Mitchell added. “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.”
The family will conduct a private graveside funeral on Wednesday, while members of Fulton Bridge will celebrate Stancil’s life at a later date.