Collierville pastor dies after battle with COVID-19


COLLIERVILLE, Tenn. — A Collierville pastor passed away due to complications related to Covid-19, after a weekslong battle with the virus.

According to Collierville United Methodist Church, Senior Pastor Rev. David Atkinson died early Wednesday morning after a battle with the virus. He’d served in Collierville since 2015.

“People are broken hearted,” said his colleague, Rev. Deborah Suddarth.

They’re also shocked. The 60-year-old was in good health and had no underlying issues. News of his passing spread quickly through his congregation of more than 3,000.

“They’ve been sending texts and phone calls to all of our phones,” Suddarth said. “They’ve just been blowing up.”

Atkinson started having COVID-like symptoms around March 15 but he initially tested negative for the virus. However, the symptoms persisted. So, on March 22 he went to the hospital, where he tested positive and was admitted right away. 

Just four days before he went into the ICU, he would have been eligible for the vaccine.

“He was waiting his turn in line patiently,” Suddarth said.

Atkinson leaves behind a wife and three adult sons. He also leaves behind a lasting legacy after serving roughly 10 churches in various states and countries throughout his career. Suddarth said he helped start a church in Nicaragua.

“David knew how to speak to people and build trust,” Suddarth said. “He was 6’4, 6’6 and had this laugh that just was contagious.”

The church will be holding a prayer service Thursday, April 8, at their sanctuary located at 454 West Poplar Avenue. The service will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will be livestreamed for those who cannot attend.

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