ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Parishioners of a local St. Petersburg church are mourning the death of their pastor after he drowned in Lake Seminole on Friday.
“Everyone is grieving differently. I’ve had my moments, my breakdown moments throughout the weekend and we are just having a tough time right now. We’re loving on each other. We’re consoling each other. We’re keeping our faith in God,” said Deacon Robert Williams of Galilee Missionary Baptist Church.
For Williams, Pastor Shawn Thomas’ death is personal.
“I remember Dr. Thomas as a youth. As a young man. As he grew up here in Galilee.”
Williams said Thomas grew up with his son at the same church that Thomas would eventually become a senior pastor at.
“He just loved preaching the word of God and teaching the word of God,” said Williams.
Thomas died by drowning Friday after his boat capsized. It all started when he and a friend were stuck on his capsized boat. Seminole Fire Rescue was able to get out on the water and save both Thomas and his friend in time.
A few hours later, Thomas called another close friend to go back out to the lake to help him get his boat. While they were tying the boats together, Thomas’ boat started taking on water and he fell into the water and never resurfaced alive.
Now, parishioners and family members are left with the memories of the pastor they said exemplified leading with love.
“Every time you would see Pastor Thomas, he would have that smile on his face and he would come out and he would show love and show how much he appreciated the people of God,” said Williams.
Pastor Thomas was just 39 years old and a respected member of the community. He left behind a wife and five children.