Staff Photo by Allison Carter/Chattanooga Times Free Press Edsel Brooks comforts Bettie Strong, the mother of slain Pastor David Strong, as she looks over flowers honoring her son before a musical tribute at St. Paul AME Church on Thursday.
The Rev. David Harrison Strong loved people so much that all they had to do was ask and he would help, said his mother Bettie Strong.
“He had so many friends until I really can’t quite understand why anyone would want to harm him,” Strong said. “But I know God was in the plan.”
His mother was among hundreds of David Strong’s friends and family members packed in St. Paul AME Church on Thursday to celebrate the life of the church pastor who was killed in his home during a robbery and found Sunday dead.
A memorial service is scheduled in his honor at 6 p.m. today at St. Paul AME Church.
“We praise God for the outpouring of love this afternoon,” said the Rev. Barbara Sanderfur.
People packed St. Paul AME standing shoulder to shoulder for a musical tribute to Strong, who pastored the church for 10 years.
“We come to celebrate in song the life of David Harrison Strong who just loved music so much,” said the Rev. Kenneth Hill. “We thank you David for sharing and showing us how to sing.”
Hill, presiding elder of the 13th Episcopal District of the AME Church has assumed Strong’s pastoral duties.
Kenneth Parks played the piano. The band followed and various choirs and soloists sang throughout the night in Strong’s honor.
After Michael Hurt with the Rejoice choir sang “God Is,” Willie Eva Carter came to the choir stand.
“If my pal were here, I would sing this to him,” she said.
Then she belted “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior” as the audience yelled “yes” and clapped.
Karen Gilbert was among people listening from outside the church because it was too full inside to sit.
“If he were here now, he’d be standing out here joking with us,” Gilbert said.
Belinda Caldwell Johnson recalled, “He loved fried chicken and he would eat it off your plate. He was very lovable and he’ll be greatly missed.”
Forgive is the message Strong would have for his killers, his mother said.
“Forgive and you will be forgiven,” she said. “He taught if you want to be forgiven forgive anybody who has done harm to you.”
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 ...