The influential Memphis, Tenn. pastor who miraculously survived a plane crash that killed four church members made his first public statement in an emotional moment Sunday.
Harvest Church Senior Pastor Kennon Vaughan and his wife, Kathryn, were met with long applause in his first time back on stage since the Jan. 17 crash that led him to go through many operations in the hospital.
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“The first thing I want to do is just declare God’s goodness,” Vaughan shared with his congregation.
The father of five thanked his Germantown church for receiving constant prayer during his recovery, recounting the moments after the crash.
“The first thing I thought, I had this image of you guys storming the gates of heaven just with prayers and it was the most peaceful thing,” he said during his address. “I had no idea in those moments if I was gonna survive, but I knew that the prayers of the saints were going up and the Lord’s will would be done. It just gave me great rest.”
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The pastor addressed the passengers who died — Bill Garner, Steve Tucker, Tyler Patterson and Tyler Springer.
“What an honor it was to be with them the moment before they met Jesus,” he said. “That will be a grief we bear for years together, and I know will tether us to those family members, and we just have so much love for them.”
Although Vaughan said he’s not ready to return to the pulpit just yet, he said he hopes to deliver the eulogy in memory of those lost in the crash.
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“When the time is right, I do want the chance to eulogize my friends,” he said. “So, when the time is right, I look forward to share more about each one of those men and what they meant to me.”
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Caleb Parke is the SMG managing editor. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and connect with him at calebparke.com.