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Community gathers nightly outside hospital window to pray for pastor fighting COVID-19

Community members gather outside hospital window nightly to pray for longtime pastor fighting...
Community members gather outside hospital window nightly to pray for longtime pastor fighting COVID-19(WHSV)
Published: Jun. 12, 2021 at 10:10 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) -Every night for the last week, friends and church members who know Leona “Gayle” Thornberry have made their way to her hospital window at Augusta Health to pray and sing.

Gayle pastored at both Annex United Methodist Church and Crimora United Methodist Church for 17 years.

She contracted COVID-19 in May, just days before she was set to retire.

The group prays and sings into a cell phone while Gayle’s son Daniel Keeton stands on the other line in the hospital room with his mother.

“Not only we can hear it, but people around us can hear it and it can provide encouragement for her but also for other people in the hospital.,” Keeton said.

Ruth Gilmer has known Gayle for many years and said even now she is making a difference.

“To me, with Gayle laying in that bed in there fighting for her life, she is impacting lives,” Gilmer said.

Gilmer said even though she can’t physically be there with Gayle, she wants to show her support.

“I can’t be in there, so I want to be as close as I can be and that’s out here,” Gilmer said.

Evan Thomas Harrison is a youth member at Annex United Methodist Church who said he is looking to give back.

“She really cared about all of us and now she is not doing very well, and it is our turn to give back to her what she has given to us,” Harrison said.

Keeton lives in Texas and said the community supporting his mom means a lot.

“I’m grateful that she has people like this and I’m grateful that this area has people that are willing to stand outside and show their faith,” Keeton said.

“We are praying that she is going to come through this. Either way, she would say she will be a winner. Whether that is getting up out of that bed and coming out and going on more adventures or whether that is going to heaven and enjoying retirement there,” Gilmer said.

Copyright 2021 WHSV. All rights reserved.

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