Less than a week after his great voice suddenly went silent, Bishop Barnett Earl Thoroughgood was laid to rest last Friday (Feb. 10). Two days of events marked a local and national tribute to his 40 years of service as the founding leader of the New Jerusalem Church of God and Christ In Virginia Beach.
On Thursday February 9 at New Jerusalem, a Home-going Memorial Celebration was held with Bishop Samuel L . Green, Jr., of Newport News presiding along with other members of the COGIC leadership.
During the ceremony, various regional leaders of the Church of God In Christ and members of the New Jerusalem leadership participated in the event, including Elder Adam Thoroughgood, Ministry Pastor of the Church, and the Director of COGIC Commonwealth Larry Miles. The Celebration Choir provided the musical interludes.
Not only were members and leadership clergy of the state, local and national COGIC available but former Virginia Beach Mayor Meyera Oberndorf, current Mayor Will Sessoms, and Susie Whitehurst of the Community League delivered words. During the memorial service, U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell called Bishop Thoroughgood a “remarkable bishop, husband, father, leader of this community.” The Congressman said he plans to pay tribute to Bishop Thoroughgood by entering his name into the Congressional Record.
Reflections on the life of Bishop Thoroughgood were delivered by Elder John Coston, First Assistant Pastor of the New Jerusalem; Elder Curtis Hopkins, Chair of the Men’s Department; Missionary Janice Sanderlin, Virginia Beach District Missionary; and Pastor Borbie Davis, Secretary, Virginia Beach District Pastors and Elders Council.
Ecumenical and Episcopal Reflections were delivered by Bishop Levi Willis, II, Prelate, Third Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction, Virginia; Bishop Courtney McBath, Hampton Roads Ecumenical Council of Bishops; Adjutant Overseer Superintendent Reginald Williams; COGIC Board of Bishops, Bishop Richard White; Prelate Fourth Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction of Virginia, Bishop G. Wesley Hardy; and Former Chief Adjutant, Church of God in Christ, Bishop J. Delano Ellis, II. On the following day, the outpouring of respect was so great that the funeral of Bishop Thoroughgood was witnessed by thousands at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. It may have been the largest funeral in the region in decades.
Civic, social and COGIC church officials, along with the congregational members of the New Jerusalem family and associated churches of the area and national COGIC faith witnessed the home-going service of Bishop Thoroughgood into the arms of his Savior and Father.
Eleven members of the COGIC church leadership from the state and local organizations presided over the ceremony and were dressed in full regalia on the stage at the Convention Center. They included the Adjutant General, the Presiding Bishop Samuel Green, the General Board, The Chair of the General Assembly, the General Secretary, the Chair of the Board of Bishops, Pastors and Elders, Visiting Clergy and the Thoroughgood family.
The Presiding Bishop, during the ceremony, read from Isaiah 40:28-31. The Choral response was ” And In Jesus, I Am Safe Evermore.”
National tributes came from Mother Willie Mae Rivers, General Supervisor of the Women’s Department; The Right Rev. Dwight Levon Green, Sr., President Pontotoc, LLC; The Rev. Isaiah Clifton Grover, Chairman; Rev. James William Hunt, Sr, Chair; The Right Reverend Harley Lyles, Jr., General Secretary; and the Right Reverend John Henry Shepard, Chairman.,
The eulogy was delivered by the Most Reverend Charles Edward Blake, Sr., from Little Rock, Arkansas, Presiding Bishop and Chief Apostle, Church of God and Christ, Inc.
Bishop Blake, who leads the 6-million-member Church of God in Christ denomination, reassured Bishop Thoroughgood’s widow of 39 years, Mrs. Ernestine Thoroughgood, and their children, Bertram, Emmanuel, Jonnathan, and Mekia that their loved one was in a better place. Additionally, the Bishop leaves five grandchildren.