Tennessee Pastor Killed While Driving His Son To College

A Nashville Anglican pastor and his 22-year-old child were killed in a crash as the two were en-route to New Mexico earlier this week. The Tennessee Highway Patrol said...

A Nashville Anglican pastor and his 22-year-old child were killed in a crash as the two were en-route to New Mexico earlier this week.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol said Thomas and Charlie McKenzie died after their vehicle collided with a semi tractor trailer on Interstate 40 near mile marker 178 in Dickson County on Monday.

A crash report states Thomas McKenzie, 50, switched lanes while traveling westbound and slammed into the back of a tractor trailer that had slowed due to traffic.ADVERTISING

Thomas and Charlie McKenzie both died as a result of the collision, according to investigators.

In a statement on the Facebook page for Church of the Redeemer, an Anglican parish in Nashville, the church confirmed the passing of Thomas McKenzie, the founding pastor.

“They were driving to Santa Fe, New Mexico,” where Charlie McKenzie was set to return to St. John’s College, Reverend Kenny Benge, the church’s associate pastor wrote.

He said Thomas was just beginning “his well-deserved sabbatical” and asked for prayers for McKenzie’s wife, Laura and their daughter, Sophie.

“I and the staff, as well as the broader leadership of the church, are shocked and deeply saddened,” Reverend Benge added.

Just before 8:30 a.m. Monday, Thomas McKenzie had posted to his Facebook page, “First day of sabbatical. Driving with my kid to New Mexico. Charlie’s senior year at St John’s College, Santa Fe campus. Today’s goal? Shamrock, Texas.”

Funeral arrangements are pending. He wrote this letter to his congregations a few days before his accident:

The time for my sabbatical is coming up in 14 days, and I’d like to let you know what that looks like.

Sabbaticals are an important, though often neglected, part of the rhythm of pastoral life. I am grateful to both our vestry and our former bishop for agreeing to mine. I’m also grateful to the staff, especially Fr. Kenny, who will be directly impacted by my absence. Please keep the vestry and staff in your prayers. And, if you wouldn’t mind, pray especially for Laura and me, who will be apart for the longest time period in our twenty-six years of marriage.

My sabbatical begins on Monday, August 23rd and concludes with my return to Sunday worship on All Saints’ Day, October 31st. That’s ten weeks, if you’re counting.

While I’m away, Fr. Kenny will be performing my functions. I am completely confident in him, and I’m sure you are as well. The Vestry will continue in their normal manner. If there were to be some kind of crisis, the Bishop would be able to step in. One of the wonderful things about Anglicanism is that none of us are that important!

Both Kenny and Ashley are available for pastoral care. If you need to speak to one of them, just contact them or Elizabeth Land in the church office.

On August 23rd, I’ll be road tripping with our eldest. Charlie (Ella) will be going to St. John’s College, Santa Fe campus, for senior year. I’ll spend a few days on that endeavor, and then fly home.

On September 1st, Laura and I plan on flying to England. This is my big 50th birthday gift—a tour of major cathedrals in the south. We’ll be based in Bath for a few days, London for a few days, and then end up in Cambridge. Laura’s best friend, Susu, lives there with her family. Laura will be staying with them for a few extra days.

On September 11th, I’ll hopefully fly to southern France, and then take a bus to a small town in the Pyrenees called Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. On the following day, I’ll begin walking the Camino de Santiago. The Camino is a 1200 year old pilgrimage across northern Spain. The path ends after approximately 500 miles, at the tomb of St. James the Great in Santiago de Compostela. It’s one of the three great medieval pilgrimages–the other two being to Rome and Jerusalem. Thousands of pilgrims now walk the camino every year, for all kinds of reasons. I am drawn for no single purpose; and, I feel it’s what God has brought me to.

My intention is to fly back to the U.S. on October 18th. I hope to spend the remainder of my sabbatical reconnecting with Laura, my friends and family, and beginning to process my camino experience. I’ll rejoin y’all for All Saints’ Sunday.

If you want to follow my camino, I’ve committed to posting every day on instagram. You can follow me at thomasmckenzie. Or, if you don’t use the app, you can follow online at www.instagram.com/thomasmckenzie. If you want to know more about the Camino, you could watch the Martin Sheen movie “The Way,” or read one of many books, including “The Way is Made by Walking,” by Arthur Paul Boers.

Once I’m home, I expect to give some kind of presentation for those interested. And, I’m sure you’ll get tired of hearing camino stories in my sermons!

I’m most grateful for Laura’s support–she’s an amazing wife! I’m also thankful for our bishop, vestry, and staff, as well as my family and friends. I’m grateful for you, as well. Church of the Redeemer is such a wonderful community. I ask for your prayers, and will look forward to seeing you upon my return.

Buen Camino to you all.


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