Priscilla Johnson's life was so full, it took a host of ministers from the area's black churches to do it proper justice. It took a chorus of many and a single, persistent, aching wail from the pew that held her family.
Johnson, 44, on her way to Miami for a cruise, was a passenger on the Comair plane that crashed Aug. 27 -- or, as one friend called it, "Flight 5191, bound for glory."
Main Street Baptist Church was filled to overflowing yesterday for the funeral of Johnson, a woman who was said to have loved her God, her family, her friends, and traveling -- and shoes, which she apparently had stashed in various places.
The 90-minute service called forth the many blessings of her life, as well as those of her death.
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The Rev. T.H. Peoples Jr., minister at Historic Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church in Lexington, took the pulpit to ask that all ministers present at the funeral stand. More than a dozen did so in a show of support for an entire community that has lost one of its own.
Peoples said Johnson's death has caused the different churches in town to examine their own behavior.
"This has caused us all to live together as churches and people. To take a look at where we are. We must apply our hearts now to this wisdom."
R.W. Cornelius, a minister at Main Street Baptist, had begun the noon service with a quiet reminder that "we come this day to bow to the will of God." He said he hardly knew what to pray for. Then he began to pray fervently, beseeching God to grant forgiveness first to all who sin.
He asked that God reach down and touch those with broken hearts.
He asked that all present "are better when we leave this place today than when we came."
With a dense blanket of red roses on her white and gold-trimmed casket, Johnson was remembered as a daughter, as a friend, as a sister and as a woman "who never met a stranger."
She was recalled with promises of God's continuing compassion and an assurance to her family that she, with Jesus' help, was taken from this life before the plane crashed and before she suffered any pain.
Peoples told the story of Paul -- "a traveler like Priscilla" -- and how he had once been in a storm, obviously in trouble, and at once found the comfort and presence of God. And the storm was calmed.
"The other day,'' said Peoples, "there was another storm. Be comforted to know that there was an angel that stood with Priscilla."
As with all of those on the plane who were prepared to meet their savior, said H.D.C. Watson, a minister from Main Street Baptist.
Watson, like Peoples, could not help but mention the city's reaction to the tragedy.
"How many have been called to the Lord this week?" he asked. "How many thought they'd ever see the inside of a church house? How many thought they'd be in church at lunchtime on a weekday?"
This is all, he said, "to the honor and glory due God."
And in solemn remembrance of the 49.
Johnson was buried at Lexington Cemetery.