A Wisconsin pastor is being remembered for his strong faith, leadership, and devotion to family, friends, and his church after he was killed in a deadly accident last week.
Rev. Aaron M. Strong, 40, was the lead pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in downtown Milwaukee.
According to a statement posted to the church’s Facebook page, the pastor was driving to church on October 12th and was t-boned by a driver who had run a red light.
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Authorities estimated the driver was going 74 mph on a 30 mph road.
“EMT responders transported him to Froedtert Hospital. The hospital staff did all they could but were unable to revive him,” read the statement from the church.
“Pastor Strong was a person that was full of joy,” Rev. Brian Hackmann, outreach pastor at Grace, told Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “He was full of life. He had a smile on his face, an infectious laugh. He was a person that was pretty easy to get along with.”
Pastor Strong came to Grace Lutheran Church in 2015 and oversaw the 1,100-person congregation’s discipleship, Bible classes, and college ministries.
“He had the love of Jesus in his heart in a big way,” Hackmann said. “He wore his faith on his sleeve.”
Strong was the son of a pastor and spent years establishing other churches on the West Coast.
“He was the one who came along and got us started,” said Rev. Tom Unke of Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Las Vegas. “And if it weren’t for his efforts, starting this mission, we wouldn’t be the large and growing congregation that we are today.”
The father of two was also known for his devotion to his family.
“He loved his family like nothing else. It was Jesus first and family second,” Hackmann said.
The church writes on its Facebook page, “As we process grief, we will cling to the cross of Jesus and the miracle of his empty tomb that assured Pastor Strong and assures us of life forever in perfect joy.”
Strong delivered his last sermon to his congregation on Oct. 9. It was titled “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift of grace.”
“God gives you the strength to push on,” said Pastor Jim Huebner, who worked alongside Strong. “We make our plans, but then there’s moments the tears just flow, you know? You can’t help it.”
Jose Manuel Silva, a 22-year-old Milwaukee resident was charged with second-degree reckless homicide in connection with Strong’s death. If convicted, Silva faces up to 25 years in jail.
Strong’s funeral will be at 6:30 pm, Wednesday, Oct. 19 at the church located at 1209 N. Broadway in Milwaukee. The church will live stream the service on its Facebook page.
A GoFundMe page has been set up by members of the Grace Lutheran Church to help with Strong’s funeral expenses, his family’s home mortgage, and his children’s education expenses.
As of Oct. 17, the effort has already raised more than $97,000 towards its $100,000 goal.
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