RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A Richmond church is in mourning Thursday after its pastor died Wednesday night in a crash.
Virginia State Police say 51-year-old Dimitri R. Bradley, of Moseley, died after striking the guardrail and overturning in the median in the westbound lanes of I-195, west of Arthur Ashe Boulevard around 9:30 p.m.
Police say Bradley was not wearing his seat belt and died at the scene.
Bradley is the pastor of City Church in Richmond.
“Last night we lost our father, our brother, our friend, and our pastor,” the church posted on Facebook. "The heart of City Church and the Bradley family is heavy and hurting right now, but through it all we trust God. "
Bradley just celebrated his 51st birthday on Friday. He leaves behind a wife and two children.
"He was a spiritual father. He was a friend. He was a mentor,” said Minister Terrance Jones who serves as City Church.
“This is a man that deserves respect from anyone who came in his path. He was a good guy,” radio host Sheilah Belle said.
Praise 104.7 Radio host Sheilah Belle says many people have been calling in, devastated by the loss.
“My first time meeting him was back in 2017 when he became the pastor of the month for Praise 104.7,” Belle said.
A connection was made in that short interaction.
“He had swag. He was a sweet guy, he was a nice guy. He was a strong man who was called by God to do what he was called to do,” Belle said.
“He was a model father and husband. He was one that young pastors, like myself, could look to and see how he maintained integrity,” Pastor Vernon Gordon said.
Gordon of ‘The Life Church’ said Dr. Bradley was truly an inspiration.
Vernon even remembers a recent conversation the two had about fitness.
“I began thinking about how at 51 he looks better than most of us at 21,” Gordon said.
Bradley was the founder of City Church which grew to the point that it now has two locations and over 4,000 members. An extension of his church just launched this month in Las Vegas. Also this month, Bradley opened another extension of City Church in Chesterfield on Midlothian Turnpike.
"He was very driven about ensuring that people had a convenient opportunity to come hear the word and to worship,” Jones said.
“He was suddenly taken but someone has to take the baton and move on. I’m sure many will take the baton and move on in the name of the Heavenly Father but spirit of their pastor,” Belle said.
“I stand on shoulders that are much higher than mines. His are certainly shoulders and shoes that can’t be filled,” Gordon said.
Church officials say they are opening the main campus of the church Friday, as well as its new location on Midlothian Turnpike, for people to gather.
It will not be the main memorial service but for people wanting to be together in support.
It starts at 9 a.m. and lasts until 8 p.m. at City Church on 4700 Oakley’s Lane in Richmond and at 9111 Midlothian Turnpike in Chesterfield County.
Copyright 2019 WWBT. All rights reserved.