A pastor in Rome, Georgia was killed by a drunk driver on his way home after celebrating his 23rd church anniversary. Pastor Nim Bernal Russell and his wife, Julia, were heading east on GA 140 about 8:30 p.m. in Bartow County when his Mercedes-Benz E350 was hit by a pickup truck.
On the evening of March 30, the driver of the pickup truck, 47-year-old Michelle Blum, crossed the center line while driving under the influence causing this fatal accident. The 55-year-old pastor of Thankful Baptist Church was killed instantly. Julia, Blum and Charles Louis Blum III were all taken to Floyd Medical Center. Blum III was a passenger in Blum’s truck.
Associate pastor of the church, Carlton Gibson, said the congregation was in shock when they heard of the death of their pastor. Gibson said they could not believe that they had just celebrated his 23 years of service as their leader. They had a difficult time trying to comprehend it.
Chairman of the deacon board, Tim Turner, said Russell’s sermons always directed listeners to believe that God is in control of everything. He also spent a lot of time encouraging people to love each other. Turner said his pastor was a powerful man of God who taught them what they needed to know.
Many of the members of Thankful Baptist Church posted their regrets of his passing on their Facebook pages. In addition to sorrow they also posted messages and lessons their beloved pastor taught them. A message from the church, posted on its Facebook page, reminded members, family and friends of one of Pastor Russell’s final statements on the day of his passing, “He told us today to #hashtag ‘to God be the glory’.”
Gibson said Russell was a family man who loved his wife, daughters, son and grandchildren. He will be greatly missed by his family and church members.
Rachael Jones, Russell’s youngest daughter, said it is the words of her father that are carrying her through this difficult time. She said she can hear him saying, “We are a strong family and we will make it through.” Jones, who lives in Atlanta, said she believes those words and is holding on to them.
Russell began ministering in 1982 and started to pastor soon after. Second Missionary Baptist Church in Wetumpka, Alabama was his first church where he was pastor until he accepted the role as senior pastor of Thankful Missionary Baptist Church and moved his family to Georgia in 1991.
Jones said her father was dedicated to the church as well as very committed to family. She said he always made sure they were together on Sunday for dinner. Jones said he loved to cook and would sit at the head of the table and they would laugh, joke and talk with each other. She said no matter what was going on her father made sure he spent time with his family.
Turner said Russell was a gifted preacher who loved people. He always emphasized people do not need to get fixed up in order to come to church. Russell made it his business to reach people exactly where they were. That is just the type of man he was. The deacon said his pastor’s spirit of loving people is sure to live on at the church.
Russell and Julia were married for 34 years. Russell’s remains were entrusted to F.K. Jones Funeral Home. The funeral service for this beloved pastor was held on Wednesday at West Rome Baptist Church. Along with his wife he leaves one daughter, two sons, his mother, four brothers, two sisters and 11 grandchildren to mourn his passing while celebrating his life.
Pastor Nim Bernal Russell was killed by a drunk driver on his way home from celebrating his 23rd church anniversary. Michelle Blum was charged by Georgia State Patrol with first-degree vehicular homicide, serious injury by vehicle, driving under the influence and driving on the wrong side of the road and driving without headlights.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)