Pastor Drops Dead at Pulpit During Sunday Sermon Shortly After Singing Pharrell's 'Happy' Song

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Pastor Drops Dead at Pulpit During Sunday Sermon Shortly After Singing Pharrell’s ‘Happy’ Song

By Leonardo Blair | CP Reporter

bishop-gordon-humphrey-jrJust over a week ago at a celebration of his 60th birthday, Pastor Gordon A. Humphrey Jr. of United Ministries bellowed melodiously from the pulpit that “the Lord is good to me…You healed my body, You brought me back from death” as a choir harmoniously affirmed his lilting declarations.

On Sunday, the preacher who loved to sing was at it again.

Shortly before he began preaching a Christmas-themed message about “hope in the manger” at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church of Chicago he sauntered through the lyrics of rapper Pharrell Williams’ runaway hit song “Happy”.

Soon after he began preaching his message of hope, however, or perhaps it was somewhere in the middle according to Pastor Greg Hunter, Humphrey dropped dead at the pulpit.

“I’m not sure if they determined the cause of death but it’s been said he may have had a heart attack,” said Hunter whom Humphrey recently installed as pastor of Olivet Institutional Missionary Baptist Church in Oakland, California after pastoring there for more than 30 years.

Humphrey was serving as senior pastor of 3 churches at the time of his death: Olivet Church in Oakland, California; Olivet Church in Stockton, California, and the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago, which his father, Gordon Humphrey, Sr. had pastored for some 40 years before his passing forced Humphrey Jr. to relocate there a few years ago.

Congregants tried frantically, but in the end their efforts proved futile, to revive their spiritual leader.

“They did call paramedics right away. They had people in the church that are in the medical field working on him as well and he was taken to the hospital. Every location was devastated. Stockton, Oakland, Shiloh, everybody was devastated,” said Hunter who wants his mentor to be remembered for doing what he loved and doing it well.

“We are putting emphasis that he passed doing what he loved to do and he loved preaching and that’s the relationship he had with God and when he preached he gave it his all. So he passed doing the thing that he loved to do and that is [to] share the word of God and minister to the body of Christ,” explained Hunter.

“For years he walked the streets and met with drug addicts and gangbangers that was against each other and [made them] begin to love. He brought all people together,” Hunter added. Humphrey was a person that “everybody liked”.


Bishop Victor S. Couzens, pastor of Inspirational Baptist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio remembered Humphrey as an affable preacher with a passion for urban ministry.

“He was always a very kind guy. He was just as good a friend and brother as he was a preacher and pastor. Someone that you could very easily relate to. His brand or his message if you will has a very urban appeal to it which I always commended him for that,” said Couzens.

“He was a very relevant preacher…humble down to earth and we are certainly all saddened by his death,” he added.

Couzens, however, believes that preachers should also make Humphrey’s death a cautionary tale. While admitting he doesn’t know the cause of death yet, he said Humphrey’s passing should be a reminder to pastors that they should take better care of their bodies. Humphrey appeared to struggle with obesity.

“One of the things that it says is that particularly those whose bodies undergo a lot of strenuous activity, because preaching is very strenuous. You have to be more diligent about making sure that we are conscious of our health. It’s so important that we take the best possible care of ourselves physically as we can,” said Couzens.

Pointing out that he was aware of a number of pastors who have died at the pulpit over the years, he said, “I think that his death certainly reminds us that it’s important that we take care of ourselves in every possible way.”

“We’ve seen a lot of that over the last several years. We’ve seen several preachers, if you will, basically succumbing to death at the pulpit for one reason or another,” said Couzens.

“I don’t know how he was feeling in his body or anything of that nature but it’s important that we listen to our bodies. It’s important that we rest, it’s important that our congregations and the people that we serve support our need for rest, support our need to be in good health and it’s important that they and we invest in our health,” he ended.

In defense of his pastor’s efforts at pursuing a healthy lifestyle, Hunter said he wasn’t under the impression that Humphrey was working too hard running three churches or sacrificing his health.

“I’m not a medical doctor but I can say he was eating healthy and you know the types of lifestyle change you have to make. I know his theme in life was to be whole, be happy in his health, be happy in his life and he was working towards being healthy in mind body and spirit,” he said.

As for Humphrey’s Chicago church, Pharrell’s “Happy” song will never be the same again.

“To My Shiloh family this song will never be the same when I hear it played. I posted this song in honor of our Pastor. It was Pastor’s last request to have the words to Pharrell’s song Happy. RIP Pastor,” the church noted on its Facebook page Tuesday.





6 Comments on “Pastor Drops Dead at Pulpit During Sunday Sermon Shortly After Singing Pharrell's 'Happy' Song”

  1. I thank God for extv, I pray Lord Jesus equips EX ministries with every spiritual gift to continue the god-given task.
    God bless you & Merry Christmas!

  2. I will miss my beloved padtor,he has sang preached to the Lord called him home. Love you and the Shiloh church home. Shiloh will always be my first church home. Prasie God to whom all blessings flow.

  3. I hate to hear what happen to this pastor but he sang a worldly song after he was thanking god for all he been through , and pharell’s song because I’m happy, that’s a worldly song, why is pastor’s singing worlldly song in church like it’s ok.

  4. This is very sad to hear. My heart goes out to the trauma this put on the congregations and family of Pastor Humphrey. But Christians and our leaders especially, need to be very careful about what they are bringing into themselves and to others. My sister and I had looked at the lyrics to Happy months ago because we couldn’t tell exactly what was being said or meant. When we broke it down it became apparent that this was a song about “relative truth”. Pay attention to the chorus without the snappy “because I’m happy” parts:
    Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof. Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth. Clap along if you know what happiness is to you. Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do.

    Happiness, not Jesus, is the Truth. How do you figure out what truth is? By knowing what happiness is to you and doing what you feel like you wanna do. You’re a room without a roof so there are no limitations, including (especially?) those imposed by God. To “clap along” is to agree, affirm, and give praise to. This is a self worship, man is god, praise song. All pastors, leaders, Christians really need to pay close attention to the WORDS in songs. Read them without the music or the way it’s sung. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to light what they actually mean. A positive song is not the same as a holy song. Satan has done a good job of uniting the entire world under songs this year like with “Happy” (self glorification) and “Let It Go” (self & occult glorification) all of which trample the one true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God loves us with all that He is, but we must remember that He is holy and righteous and is not amused when we blatantly worship other gods whether they be man or demon. This is more so when we instruct others to come and worship other gods. Unlike what these songs repeatedly indoctrinate us with, we will not be free by bowing our knee to these gods, instead they tighten the bondage.

    This does not mean that Pastor Humphrey was not a believer or even that the song was the reason that he died. But even if it was, believers are disciplined and pre-mature death can be a discipline. Being disciplined doesn’t make you an evil or bad person. But it’s better to be disciplined with death as a believer to give warning to others and to be instantly face to face with your Lord & Savior than to suffer wrath with death as an unbeliever and be separated from God forever. We do God and this pastor a disservice if the only thing we get from this is that we need to be more health conscious… I think the message from anyone standing before the throne of God at this moment would be to “worship God and Him alone” and to “seek & love righteousness”.

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