Community mourns the loss of Pensacola pastor who died of COVID-19

Coronavirus

PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — The community came together Wednesday night to remember a longtime pastor who died over the weekend from COVID-19.

It was like a typical Wednesday night service for the congregation at Sixth Avenue Baptist Church, but it was out front on the steps, socially distanced, wearing masks and without their leader who they came to honor.

“We weren’t expecting Pastor Johnson to pass,” Fallon Earlington said. “He’s a rock to us.”

Pastor Michael Johnson fought COVID-19 for weeks in the hospital and died on Aug. 8.

“We are shocked,” Earlington said. “We need the love from the community. There’s just no words. I have no words for it. I’m sorry.”

More than 60 people came through for a candlelight vigil in his honor. People left flowers, crosses and balloons on the front step of the church. Some shared memories of Johnson and everyone heard from one of his sons too who read a piece of his father’s final sermon.

“I just want to say thank you on behalf of my family for all of the support you give,” he said. “It means a lot to us. I know we’re all grieving at this time but like he said, we can’t add worries onto the day. We have to live each day at a time.”

Some here like Jackie Roberts Parker knew Johnson since high school.

“He definitely inspired me,” Parker said. “He pulled me off of the pew and got me to work in the church and I love it and I’m still working in the church today because of Dr. Johnson.”

Everyone is encouraged to stop by the church this week and continue adding to the growing memorial. Funeral arrangements for Johnson are expected to be released later this week.

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