Rev. Thomas McKenzie, author and founding pastor of Church of the Redeemer in Nashville, Tennessee, and his 22-year-old child, Charlie (who is also known as Ella), were involved in a deadly traffic accident on Monday morning, August 23, 2021. Both father and child were killed in the accident.
An email from Church of the Redeemer’s associate pastor Rev. Kenny Benge that was sent to the church members explained that Thomas and Charlie were killed on Interstate 40, just west of their home in Nashville. They were on their way to St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where Charlie was scheduled to start the new school year as a senior.
According to a WKRN News report, the accident took place around 9:50 A.M. Monday morning when a semi-truck pulling a trailer had slowed due to traffic. The McKenzies’ Nissan Versa changed lanes into the slowed lane and slammed into the back of the semi’s trailer. Both Thomas and Charlie were wearing a seatbelt.
Pastor McKenzie had just started his “well-deserved” sabbatical, the email stated. “My sabbatical begins on Monday, August 23rd, and concludes with my return to Sunday worship on All Saints’ Day, October 31st,” McKenzie had written on a blog titled “My Upcoming Sabbatical.”
First day of sabbatical. Driving with my kid to New Mexico. Charlie’s senior year at St John’s College, Santa Fe campus. Today’s goal? Shamrock, Texas.
— Thomas McKenzie (@thomasmckenzie) August 23, 2021
McKenzie wrote that after spending a few days helping Charlie get to college, he’d be flying back to Nashville in preparation for his 50th birthday trip to England with his wife Laura. McKenzie had plans to walk the Camino de Santiago, a 1200-year-old pilgrimage across northern Spain. “The path ends after approximately 500 miles, at the tomb of St. James the Great in Santiago de Compostela,” he wrote. “It’s one of the three great medieval pilgrimages — the other two being to Rome and Jerusalem. Thousands of pilgrims now walk the Camino every year, for all kinds of reasons. I am drawn for no single purpose; and I feel it’s what God has brought me to.”
In his best-selling book The Anglican Way McKenzie wrote, “Unless the church is actively living out the reality of love, there is little reason to debate theology. And unless the church has a healthy theology, we won’t recognize true love when we see it.”
The beloved pastor is survived by his wife and daughter Sophie.
Rev. Kenny Benge closed his email with this prayer: “Most merciful God, whose wisdom is beyond our understanding: deal graciously with those who mourn, especially Laura and Sophie. Surround them with your love, that they not be overwhelmed by their loss, but have confidence in your goodness, and strength to meet the days to come, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Please join ChurchLeaders and keep the McKenzie family in your prayers.
Many Saddened by the Shocking News
Ed Stetzer, executive director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center and editor-in-chief of Outreach Magazine told ChurchLeaders, “Like so many others, I am heartbroken at the loss of Thomas and Ella. Thomas blessed so many, and encouraged everywhere he went. He will be sorely missed. We need God’s mercy now more than ever.”
Former president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethic & Religious Liberty Commission, Russell Moore posted, “All of us who loved this great and faithful and kind man are grieving. @thomasmckenzie ministered to countless of us of various denominations, and we all respected him. Pray for his family and church at this moment of great sadness.”
All of us who loved this great and faithful and kind man are grieving. @thomasmckenzie ministered to countless of us of various denominations, and we all respected him. Pray for his family and church at this moment of great sadness. https://t.co/dwDfhbpOIS
— Russell Moore (@drmoore) August 23, 2021
Esau McCaulley is the assistant professor of New Testament at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, and a priest in the Anglican Church in North America. McCaully shared his thoughts on McKenzie’s passing: “Listen @thomasmckenzie was the best of us. He was all I hoped our tradition could be faithful, courageous, and generous orthodoxy. When my friends were often few, I could count on his support. I’ll see him again at the resurrection of the just. Well done. You finished the race. Prayers for his family as they deal with the losses of Thomas and his child.”
Listen @thomasmckenzie was the best of us. He was all I hoped our tradition could be faithful, courageous, and generous orthodoxy. When my friends were often few, I could count on his support. I’ll see him again at the resurrection of the just. Well done. You finished the race.
— Esau McCaulley, Ph.D (@esaumccaulley) August 24, 2021