MACON, Ga. — The Macon community has lost an activist and a church is without its pastor after his death Wednesday.
Rev. Bryant Wardell Raines was the pastor at New Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church in Macon.
Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones says Raines died at a hospital in Gainesville, Florida, on Wednesday.
Earlier this month, a post on New Pilgrim’s Facebook page said Raines was battling COVID-19.
“As many families and lives have been affected by COVID-19, so too have ours,” the post said.
According to New Pilgrim’s website, Raines was a 1995 graduate of Central High School and 1999 graduate of Clark Atlanta University.
He was installed as New Pilgrim’s second pastor in 2015 after his father,
Rev. Curtis Raines, Sr., died in 2015.
Last year, Pastor Bryant Wardell Raines founded the “Heal the Hood” initiative, working toward uniting the community to make Macon a safer place to live. It’s a grassroots program co-founded alongside Christopher Cabiness of New Hope Church and Belvin Ware of Macedonia Baptist Church.
Local religious leaders are taking to social media to extend their condolences to the Raines family and New Pilgrim community.
“My heart is incredibly heavy! I watched him grow up… I saw him playing baseball when he was a kid! He was a mentee of mine!,” Pastor E. Dewey Smith Jr. said in a Facebook post.
Smith is a pastor at the House of Hope Atlanta and Macon. In the post, Smith said he was “heartbroken” and asked that people keep the Raines family in their prayers.
“He was only 44-years-old. He was in good physical shape. I hate COVID-19!,” Smith said.
A Facebook post from the General Missionary Baptist Convention of Georgia says Raines was recently appointed president of the organization.
“During this of uncertainty, we request the continued prayers as well as acts of emotional and spiritual support for the Raines family,” Reverend Anthony Q. Corbett, Sr. said in the post. “It is with great honor that The General Missionary Baptist Convention of Georgia will assist the Raines family during this most difficult time.”
A social media post from New Pilgrim says Raines recently celebrated a birthday this month.
Jones says funeral services will be handled by Bentley and Son’s Funeral Home. They are incomplete at this time.