published Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Slain pastor remembered as forgiving, kind

A slain pastor was remembered Wednesday for his compassion and desire to help people, a man who would have asked for prayers for the family of the people who killed him, one church member said.

The Rev. David Harrison Strong was “a forgiving man, always thinking about others,” said Ray Hill, a long-time member of the St. Paul AME Church that Strong pastored for 10 years,

“He would tell us not only to pray for his family, but also for the family of the people who committed the crime,” Hill said Wednesday at a prayer vigil. “That’s the man I knew him to be.”

About 200 people, from relatives to church members, preachers to politicians, turned out at Warren Chapel AME Church for the first in a series of services scheduled this week in Strong’s honor. Another is scheduled for today.

Strong, killed in his home last week during a robbery, was found beaten and stabbed Sunday morning. Antonio Henry, 25, and Brendan Barnes, Henry’s 16-year-old cousin, each have been charged with one count of felony murder and one count of especially aggravated robbery in Strong’s death.

Wednesday’s vigil for Strong was held not because he died but because he lived, said the Rev. Barbara Sanderfur.

  • photo
    Staff Photo by John Rawlston/Chattanooga Times Free Press State Sen. Andy Berke, the Rev. Archie Griffin, the Rev. Barbara Sanderfur, Dr. Terence L. Mayes Sr., the Rev. Andrew Bullard and the Rev. Timothy Caruthers, from left, sing a hymn during a prayer vigil at the Warren Chapel AME Church in North Chattanooga on Wednesday afternoon for the late Rev. David H. Strong of the St. Paul AME Church. The victim of homicide, Strong's body was found in his Glenwood home early Sunday morning.

“We come today to look to the Lord to help us through this hour because we know that there is light at the end of the tunnel,” Sanderfur said. “We come today to celebrate.”

A picture of Strong sat between two candles in front of the pulpit during Wednesday’s service. The piano played. A line of preachers clapped, and Sanderfur tilted her head back and led the crowd in singing “Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand.”

Strong, 55, was the sixth of 10 children born to the late James Harrison Strong and Bettie Davis Strong. The pastor grew up in Memphis and served in ministerial positions in Louisville, Ky., and Nashville before coming to Chattanooga in 2000 to become the pastor of St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Members said he hosted mentoring programs for youth, visited the elderly and reached out to people who weren’t a part of the church.

“He was a father to the fatherless,” said Tharyl Brown, St. Paul’s youth director and church member of more than 50 years. “When the youth go bowling, he goes bowling with us.”

Hamilton County Attorney Rheubin Taylor, former city commissioner John P. Franklin, former city councilman John Taylor and Gregorian monk Brother Ron Fender were among the people gathered to honor Strong.

Andre Strong, the late pastor’s nephew, sat on the front pew and greeted people until the prayer vigil started.

“He was a talented and gifted man,” said Andre Strong. “He could sing, play the piano and he could preach.”

Ministers invited state Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, to speak about Strong from the pulpit.

“I’ll tell you right now that I don’t feel worthy to be up here with these men and women of God, so I’ll start with a confession,” said Berke. “I’m a man and I’m angry. And I know that’s not what Rev. Strong would want me to say.”

Berke said he will try to remember the good things about Strong to help him deal with his feelings of what happened to the minister.

about Yolanda Putman...

Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...

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concernedvoice said...

I attended Pastor Strong's Prayer Vigil yesterday and experienced a rare moment here in Chattanooga. Church full of different faith, color and gender congregating together to celebrate someone's life. NO malice toward each other, just a communion of spirits bonding. It was emotionally overwhelming. It is my hope that we all continue to forge this type of fellowship in this community and seek out ways to work together on fighting this epidemic on our streets.

WE HAVE GOT TO GET A HANDLE ON THE VIOLENCE!

October 14, 2010 at 10:14 a.m.
yazoo1966 said...

The writer(concerned voice) has said it all. I feel honored to have known Rev. Strong. The service brought people together and healed some of the feelings of loss. We laughed and wept together and honored a person, who made everyone he met feel good.

October 14, 2010 at 10:35 a.m.
ldsnack said...

so why did these lost souls decide to kill an innocent? who were they and what upbringing lead to this terrible incident? obviously, some core values were missing in their lives, values which a man of God speaks to everyday. my prayers to all involved.....

October 14, 2010 at 11:24 a.m.
FM_33 said...

The black on black crime problem is at the center of this murder. Church's in the Chattanooga TN area need to reach out to the hip hop youth that feels left out of the mainstream and shut out of society. Every time things like this happen people continue to stay in there churches and not addresss the bigger problem which is the people out here in the streets are not feeling the love of Christ in there homes or community's.

I have said that most people of faith need to have a "youth ministry" in each and every church across America to mentor and address some of the general problems that they face every day in these hood's and ghetto's around the country.

Proverty drugs and the gang life is at the for front of Satan's war on the youth of America.

So why is the people still waiting in the houses of God and not doing something about it ?

Some times i have pondered this question for many years and have not gotten an decent answer from anybody of faith on this central issue.

This is why it will continue to happen unless people stand up and take back there commuinity's for God and stop letting the Devil win all the time.

October 14, 2010 at 6:23 p.m.
FM_33 said...

One other thing is the fact that we need to get this welfare and ghetto mindset out of the black community and start instilling a CHIRST MINDSET again !

How many times that people like me have said this point and people turns the other way and pay me no mind. I have made the same point to the progressives for years and they always seem to have an agenda to make the problem worst not better in the short term and the long term.

STOP VOTING FOR ULTRA-PROGRESSIVE AGENDAS IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY AND WATCH THIS THING TURN AROUND FOR THE BETTER !

I tired of see hard head ass people not get the point but oh well you got to keep fighting any way even when it seems like there is no hope.

October 14, 2010 at 6:29 p.m.
FM_33 said...

One other thing is the fact that we need to get this welfare and ghetto mindset out of the black community and start instilling a CHIRST MINDSET again !

How many times that people like me have said this point and people turns the other way and pay me no mind. I have made the same point to the progressives for years and they always seem to have an agenda to make the problem worst not better in the short term and the long term.

STOP VOTING FOR ULTRA-PROGRESSIVE AGENDAS IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY AND WATCH THIS THING TURN AROUND FOR THE BETTER !

I am tired of seeing hard head ass people not get the point but oh well you got to keep fighting any way even when it seems like there is no hope.

October 14, 2010 at 6:30 p.m.
FM_33 said...

I am sorry if that post came out a little ruff for most you posters here but it is nothing but the truth and it needs to be said more often in the black community.

STOP LETTING THE PROGRESSIVE LEFT AGENDA TURN YOU ALL INTO SOCIALIST COMMUNIST MORON"S !

  • Nuff Said *
October 14, 2010 at 6:35 p.m.
hcirehttae said...

FM_33, I truly respect your right to express your opinion, however I may agree or disagree with your views. But would you please consider writing out and carefully revising a single response before you start to type, and then posting a single response that best expresses your views?

I think TFP comment readers, who want to hear all opinions across the spectrum, expect and deserve the most carefully thought-out statements that each of us can muster. It's the right thing to do.

October 15, 2010 at 6:44 p.m.
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