The Texas pastor knew he was vulnerable to COVID-19. But he felt at peace.

In early April, Rev. of Valley Mills First United Methodist Church in Texas. Jaime McGlothlin began to lead a weekly Zoom discussion group with eight other rural pastors, seeking consultation during the time of COVID-19. “It was a place where we could be vulnerable,” McGothlin said in a recent interview.

The oldest of the nine clergy, the Rev. Tom Wood, was 83 years old, having served at the First United Methodist Church in the small town of Itasca (population 1,726) for 17 years. Wood was new to videoconferencing software, and he sometimes forgot to take his microphone, McGlothlin fondly recalled.

Still, every month for three months, McGlothlin said, Wood was the first pastor to sign, always “eager to join and join”. He was “the most loyal of us all” – right until July, when he attended his final zoom call with the young grandson sitting on his lap.

Rev. Superintendent of the Central District for the Central Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church. According to Leah Hide-Gregory, Wood died on July 29 of complications related to COVID-19.

First United Methodist Church in Itasca, Texas.Courtesy First Methodist Church

According to a post posted on the church’s Facebook page, his wife Kathy, a teacher at a local elementary school, and is survived by two daughters, Gwendolyn and Didre. Hide-Gregory said he was beloved throughout Hill County, seen by many as a wise elder and a spiritual beacon.

“In all my years as a minister, I didn’t know as good a man,” according to a blog post by Rev. Richard Chaffin, a retired pastor, resident bishop of the Central Texas Conference, at Wood’s funeral service said. United Methodist Church.

In his weekly conversations, McGlothlin would often tell his fellow clergymen about the concerns they were taking as coronaviruses spread across the country. But when it was Wood’s turn to share, he would say that he did not understand the question, McGothlin recalled with a laugh.

“He would say – and it came from such an authentic place – that his hope was in Christ and the resurrection,” McGlothlin said. “They said, ‘I know, at my age, this virus will probably kill me if I get it.” He was fast asleep about this. He was not worried. He was insensitive. “

“I think he understood the reality,” McGlothlin said. “We could never have imagined that those words would come true.”

Both McGlothlin and Hide-Gregory described Wood as a serene presence, a man who seemed to be at peace with complete mortality.

In his final sermons, virtually delivered and uploaded to YouTube, Wood spoke to his congregation about hardship, sorrow, and “this current insanity”.

“Looks like this would be a good time to talk about bad times,” Wood said in front of a large pipe organ in his church.

In a serious tone, Wood called on church members to gain a higher power in times of crisis, medical or otherwise: “He knows you’re stuck. He knows he wants to help you. He’s there. Wants to stay. ” Wants to join you in this problem. “

Wood was born in December 1936 in Detroit. She spent time in Illinois, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Kansas, Texas and Nevada – “but Texas always called her back home,” the obiteru posted on the church’s Facebook page.

He became a pastor after a career as a salesman and business owner in what he described as “a life of success for a life of importance”, Hide-Gregory said.

“She was very young at 83,” he said – a devoted and wholehearted “go-gutter” who called himself “a salesman for Jesus”.

McGlothlin, who saw Wood every few months over the past five years, said Wood was honest about his spiritual vocation, living his life with “a strong sense of Pulpit and his responsibility to her”.

He recalled that Wood spent five hours alone in the sanctuary on Saturday, practicing his sermon and prayer.

“I mean, it’s such a discipline,” McGlothlin said. “He took his leadership of this small community in Itesa seriously.”

In his final months, according to Hide-Gregory, Wood was diligent about social distinctions and covering the face. He could not wait to return to preach, saying that so many people in his congregation depended on him as a spiritual lifeline.

“He was absolutely passionate about worshiping and bringing people together,” she said.

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