Father Thomas McKenzie and his 22-year old daughter Ella were killed earlier this week in a car accident on I-40 in Tennessee.
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McKenzie was the co-founding pastor of the Anglican Church of the Redeemer in Nashville.
The accident took place on Monday morning when McKenzie’s car – a Nissan Versa- was changing lanes and rear-ended a tractor-trailer that had slowed down for traffic. The truck driver was not injured.
The father and daughter had just begun their road trip to New Mexico where Ella was about to begin her senior year at St. John’s College.
Relevant Magazine reports McKenzie is survived by his wife Laura and their other daughter, Sophie.
He was a beloved figure in Nashville, Tennessee where he pastored Church of the Redeemer, an Anglican Church he co-founded. He was the author of a number of books, including The Anglican Way, and was also a popular figure on social media where he’d comment on the culture through a lens of faith.
McKenzie was just beginning a sabbatical, and in a Facebook post, expressed excitement about his vacation, which would include a trip to Europe.
“I’m most grateful for Laura’s support–she’s an amazing wife!” he wrote. “I’m also thankful for our bishop, vestry, and staff, as well as my family and friends. I’m grateful for you, as well. Church of the Redeemer is such a wonderful community. I ask for your prayers, and will look forward to seeing you upon my return.”
Associate Pastor Kenny Benge, informed the congregation in a statement that their pastor and his daughter had died and asked for prayer during this “agonizing time.”
“Thomas was just beginning his well-deserved sabbatical. Thomas’ wife Laura and their daughter Sophie are now home in Nashville.
Please keep Laura and Sophie in your prayers as they navigate this agonizing time. I and the staff, as well as the broader leadership of the church, are shocked and deeply saddened, as I’m sure you are as well in hearing this news.”
Accolades and memories have been pouring in from the Christian community about the great loss of such a beloved pastor and friend.
Religion News Service reports that best-selling author Stephen Mansfield was a member of Church of the Redeemer and knew McKenzie well.
“Rare are those men or women who have glimpsed God and whose insights transform others ever afterward,” Mansfield said. “They wrestle with their humanity in a way that helps others wrestle with theirs. They give freely of what they know with contagious joy. Thomas was such a soul. And he was my friend.”
Ed Stetzer, director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, was also a friend. He described McKenzie as having “a sharp mind and a kind heart,” according to Religion News.
“He challenged me and so many others — to think, to love, and to live like Christ. He will be missed by many because he kept pointing people to Jesus,” Stetzer said. “I remember sitting together in Nashville talking about what it meant to be a vicar — and what it means to be an earthly representative of Christ. Thomas did that well, and his loss is deeply felt by many of us.”
Associate Pastor Benge finished his statement to the Redeemer congregation with a prayer.
“Most merciful God, whose wisdom is beyond our understanding: deal graciously with those who mourn, especially Laura and Sophie,” Benge wrote. “Surround them with your love, that they not be overwhelmed by their loss, but have confidence in your goodness, and strength to meet the days to come, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”