MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Loved ones, friends and community members celebrated the life of a beloved South Memphis pastor Saturday.
First Baptist Broad Church was filled, with hardly a seat left empty.
It was another sign of the large impact Reverend Ralph White left on Memphis, especially in the South Memphis community that he called home.
“It’s a sad day because our hearts are left to look for someone to fill that gap. But, it’s a celebration in that we saw embodiment of his leadership and a voice that was never afraid. He could not be silenced,” said Pastor Keith Norman, First Baptist Broad Church.
Reverend White lived his life as an activist, constantly working to improve.
While leading Bloomfield Baptist Church for the last 30 years, White hosted events to expunge criminal records, take back guns from the community and speak out against violence.
“He did so many good things in this community. He sheparded a community that many people had given up on. He believed in it and inspired hope,” said Norman.
A week ago, Reverend White collapsed while officiating a funeral at Bloomfield. He later died at the hospital from health complications. He was 71 years old.
“We miss him but he's happy, rested, and he's well. And he is whole again and so we love you but God loves you best and we'll see you again,” said Jocquelyn Griggs, White’s granddaughter.
“The reason Ralph left out the way he left out, right in the middle of a sermon is because he heard the voice of God,” said Pastor Edward Stephens, Golden Gate Cathedral.
The spirit was strong in the church as people gave testimonials of Reverend White's legacy.
A legacy that they say will last forever in Memphis.
“We will always memorialize his life and the good works that he stood for,” said Norman.
White's wife of 45 years, Janet, attended the ceremonies, as well as city dignitaries like Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.
While tears were shed, those attending say it was a joyous ceremony for a man who spread so much joy.
“Not sad. He’s healed, he’s well and he’s resting in God’s arms,” said Norman.
White leaves behind 3 children and 7 grandchildren.
Leaders in South Memphis say they plan to continue White’s work to improve life for those who live in the area.