They have been the center of their community, spreading prayer, love, and music to their neighbors. But last Thursday, tragedy struck after a car accident claimed the life of Lilly Mae Easely. Her husband, Pastor Carlton Easley, was seriously injured, their daughter, fortunately, wasn't hurt.
On Wednesday, a community celebrated the life of one of its leaders, and prayed for the recovery of another. Sixty-seven-year-old Lilly Mae Easely was killed in a car accident on Route 2 last Thursday.
"She was a gracious lady, with a smile and a hug for everyone. When I think of love thy neighbor as thy self, I think of Lilly," says congregant Mike Plemons.
Lilly, along with her husband Rev. Carlton Easley, have pastored in two local churches for years, Ridott Community Church, and North Grove Christian Church, small, tight-knit congregations, now experiencing overwhelming grief.
"They were supporting partners in a mission, they not only had a tremendous effect on Oregon and the students of Oregon High School, but of course the church and the surrounding area," says family friend Byron McKinstry.
Pastor Easley has been moved out of intensive care, and is recovering, and this small church community waits anxiously for his return.
"He's still our leader, and he'll be back, the Lord will provide," says Plemons.
Friends say Lilly Mae reveled in the arts and literature, but her story was a book of faith, a faith she shared with her husband and five children, and a faith she instilled in her community.
"They've been a blessing to me, and certainly, we're going to be there to stand behind the kids and Carlton in any way we can. We appreciate them, and all that they've done," says McKinstry.