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Detroit Church Cries Out to God to 'Heal Our Land' after COVID-19 Kills Pastor and Son


A congregation in Detroit, MI, is crying out to God to heal the US after both their pastor and his eldest son lost their lives to the COVID-19 virus. 

Members of New St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church are in mourning but are also praising the hope all Christians have in Jesus Christ, after Pastor Rev. Dr. Nathaniel Slappey, Sr., 80, passed away on April 30, and his son Nathaniel Slappey, Jr., 49, a girls basketball coach at Detroit Country Day School, and a graphic artist and designer, transitioned from this life to the next on May 2 from COVID-19 complications at a local hospital. 

The Detroit Free Press reported the two men were close, and if you saw one, the other wasn't far behind.  

The church posted the following prayer to its Facebook page with the comment, "We are praying to you, dear Lord. Please hear us and heal our land." 

"Dear God, 
Our hearts are heavy because there are so many that are sick and dying. Please bring this pandemic to an end. We need a miracle.

"Yesterday our Pastor, Rev. Dr. Nathaniel Slappey, made his transition and is resting now, and for eternity, in the arms of Jesus. He was a true man of God and stood steadfast and unmovable on the Word. His love for New St. Luke MBC and all of its members will live on in our hearts and minds forever. We thank you, Pastor Slappey, for 50 years of unwavering love, faithfulness, and dedication in teaching us "thus saith the Lord...", the church posted on its Facebook page the day after the pastor's death. 

Founded Early Start Mission

Slappey, Sr., also created the Early Start Mission at the church, according to the Free Press. It was a program designed to get young people off of the streets and into the church, including providing food and clothing to the poor. 

One of those teenagers the pastor took under his wing was named Wallace Mills. "I was one of the mischievous fellows growing up," Mills told the newspaper. "I was always getting into fights."

"One day he sat me down and he told me: 'You don't always win battles by fighting. You win battles by sharpening your mind and then making a difference in your community.'"

Mills took the pastor's message to heart. He's now the pastor of the New Ebenezer Baptist Church in Detroit. 

Family, Faith, and Education

Just two days after St. Luke's announced their pastor's death, the church announced that Pastor Slappey's eldest son had also passed away.  

"The family of the late Pastor Nathaniel Slappey and the NSL church family have experienced another heartbreaking loss. It is with great sorrow that we announce the passing of Pastor and Sis. Josephine Slappey's eldest son, Nathaniel Jr. He made his transition yesterday and we know, that like his father, he is resting in the arms of Jesus now and for eternity. Please continue to pray for the Slappey family's comfort and strength. God Is Able," the church posted to its Facebook page. 

Slappey, Jr. would have turned 50 last weekend. He and his wife Toy had three sons.

"He was my grandfather's right-hand man," son Nathaniel Slappey III told the Detroit Free Press. "My father handled everything so my grandfather could just preach."

Only immediate family members were able to attend the memorial service held for both men on Tuesday due to social distancing restrictions. The service was streamed via Facebook Live for church members.  

"I never would have thought in a million years that I would bury my husband and a son on the same day," Josephine Slappey, who along with her husband had five children, six grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren, told the paper.

A few hours before the memorial service, the church posted the following scripture to its Facebook page.

"In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4: 6-7 

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