Preacher Drops Dead Mid-Sermon

“I can feel the Holy Ghost, hallelujah.” Those were the final words of evangelist Alfred Guy Jr., as he preached at a revival attended by 114 people at the Pentacostal Outreach Workship Center in Earlysville on Friday night. He then collapsed, dead of a heart attack. Rather than being upset, the congregation was uplifted. Said one member of the congregation, “I was raised in church, but I have never seen a service where the Lord has taken a pastor home. It was as though I was walking on the clouds.” Reed Williams has the story in today’s Progress.

5 thoughts on “Preacher Drops Dead Mid-Sermon”

  1. That was a very moving article. And I say that despite that fact that the reasoning behind the congregation’s response is personally entirely alien to me. I’m not a theist, so I don’t interpret heart attacks in terms of divine reward or punishment. But there’s an astonishing moral beauty to the way the congregation wraps the event into their faith and their respect for Rev. Guy.

  2. I agree that there is a beauty in interpeting the world in ways that extract inspiration from those events.

    There’s something equally disturbing in this, too, at least to me. The mindset that is bent on extracting spiritual reassurance and affirmation from someone’s mid-sermon heart attack is probably the same mindset that extracts spiritual affirmation from some "enemy" figure’s downfall. Something horrible happens to a sinner of some sort (let’s say me, for example, with my atheistic ways); that, too, is interpreted as confirmation of God’s glorious plan.

    I guess the thing that is disturbing to me is that there is no openness in this system to disconfirming evidence–there is no such thing as disconfirming evidence, in fact. Since the conclusion has already been reached, world events come pre-interpreted so as to support the conclusion. So that we get things like a flood wiping out a whole town of people, and when one guy somehow survives, his survival is evidence of God’s power and love.

    i feel like a crank for pointing this out! dsewell’s post was so thoughtful and balanced and appreciated. i’m just such an earth-bound, science-driven rationalist–the preacher died because he clearly had heart disease (a record of previous heart attacks) and was involved in heavy physical exertion at the time of his death!

    but that’s a liberal-humanist for you!

  3. Reed did a great job with a great story. There’s not a whole lot of room for discussion about this particular incident (at least, not that’s likely to occur here), but it was just such an interesting piece that I didn’t want it to pass unnoticed.

  4. It’s funny, you say "that’s a liberal -humanist for you". I am a Christian, meaning (as that word is over-used and seems to mean different things to different people) I believe in the Trinity and basically Jesus Christ as the Lord and Saviour of all. Anyway, that being said, I believe as you that he probably had heart disease and was involved in heavy physical exertion at the time of his death. God gets blamed and/or credited with so many things that people want to credit to him. This story aside, because I really have no problems with it and who knows, maybe the Holy Spirit did take this man as these folks believe he did, but I wish we who use God’s name so loosely to be on "our side" did it mostly in the cause of loving others.

  5. I loved the story…and I wouldn’t be too hard on anyone else’s beliefs. Even the word "belief" rightly divided means "be love." It is the root of faith, to literally "be love" for something.

    We believe in each other, or a significant other, we believe in science and medicine to make/keep us well. We believe our parent’s love for us and our children’s love for us is pure and unconditional. We believe the sun will eventually come up-come out, and we believe that tomorrow will come as every tomorrow comes.

    These folks believe something as sure as you believe somebody loves you. They "be love" for God. And they believe that God took the minister in front of them. How different is that, really, than to believe the psychobabble slogan that "nothing happens by mistake."

    As for me, I can think of a hundred marvelous ways to go, though I ascribe to Woody Allen’s one-liner, "I’m not afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens."

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