To the People of Chattanooga and Hamilton County,
From the very bottom of my heart, and on behalf of St. Luke UMC, I offer heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathies to those who knew and loved Booker T. Scruggs, especially to his family and his close friends. He was an amazing and remarkable man. Booker was a true role model, living out of his passions and his gifts.
He was no stranger to St. Luke. He made his first recording here and performed for many plays and concerts, often performing for our senior “Prime-time” ministry. Booker and his ensemble were a natural choice for our final Earl Miller and Sandy Sandefer Memorial Concert Series.
On Sunday, June 4, no one knew what was about to take place as we gathered for the concert. The air was ripe with anticipation and the church brimmed with energy and excitement as folks settled into pews, old friends reconnected and new friends greeted one another. So many people from all corners of the Chattanooga area gathered in the sanctuary to indulge in some of the finest music this city has to offer. The church was buzzing with a certain Spirit.
As we know now, that joy and excitement quickly turned to tragedy. Fear and sadness filled the room in place of the beautiful music for which everyone had gathered. However, in the midst of this traumatic experience, God remained faithful. Three nurses in attendance quickly sprang into action. The audience stayed calm and collected. Several firstresponders arrived and gave prompt assistance.
As Booker was rushed to the hospital, the remaining trio played to allow the ambulance space to leave without the interference of a flood of cars. Nancy Westmoreland, singing and playing in that angelic way of hers, brought most of us to tears for our dear friend. Even in his sudden illness, Booker unknowingly led a crowd to worship, just as he often did.
On behalf of St. Luke UMC, I want to offer our most sincere gratitude. Thank you to all who assisted with such immediacy and action. Thank you to the first responders who gave aid and rushed Booker to the hospital. Thank you to the audience who remained calm and steadfast in prayer and to the trio who had the grace and professionalism to play music that calmed the crowd while their dear friend got the help he needed. What an impossibly difficult task that must have been. Thank you to the many folks who have called to check on Booker following Sunday’s event. And thank you to everyone who has offered up prayers, positive energy, good thoughts, and blessings.
As we all mourn our dear friend, we acknowledge our very real and human loss. Please join the congregation of St. Luke UMC in continuing to pray for all who loved Booker T. Scruggs, especially his family and close friends. Booker has left this world, but he has not left us. For all of him that remains in each of us, we give thanks. For all of him that has made us and shaped us into who we are, we give thanks. Before he was ours, he was and always will be God’s beloved child. And now he has gone home. And one day we shall meet him again, by God’s great grace.
Rev. Evelyn Harris
Pastor, St. Luke UMC