Beloved pastor dies after battle with COVID-19

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

Video Transcript

ANDREW ELLISON: People who knew him, say Reverend David Atkinson had a presence that was larger than life. But sadly, the senior pastor at Collierville United Methodist Church lost his life this morning after a weeks long battle with COVID-19.

DEBORAH SUDDATH: People are broken hearted.

ANDREW ELLISON: And shocked. 60 years old in good health, no underlying issues.

DEBORAH SUDDATH: He has been healthy as a horse his whole life.

ANDREW ELLISON: News of Atkinson's passing spreading quickly through his congregation of more than 3,000.

DEBORAH SUDDATH: They've been sending text and phone calls to all of our phones. They've just been blowing up.

ANDREW ELLISON: Atkinson's colleague, Reverend Deborah Suddath, beside herself with grief.


ANDREW ELLISON: Atkinson started having COVID like symptoms around March 15th, but he initially tested negative for the virus.

Problem was the symptoms persisted. So on March 22, he went to the hospital, where he tested positive and was admitted right away.


ANDREW ELLISON: Just four days before he would have been eligible for the vaccine.

DEBORAH SUDDATH: He was waiting his turn in line patiently.

ANDREW ELLISON: Atkinson leaves behind a wife and three adult sons.

DEBORAH SUDDATH: Just really ask for prayers.

ANDREW ELLISON: He also leaves behind a lasting legacy after serving roughly 10 churches in various states and countries throughout his career.

DEBORAH SUDDATH: The lack of his impact is going to be felt widely.

ANDREW ELLISON: Especially here in Collierville, where he had served since 2015.

DEBORAH SUDDATH: He leaves a legacy of an incredible piece.

ANDREW ELLISON: A man of faith resting in peace tonight. In Collierville, Andrew Ellison. WREG News, Channel 3.