Two of the three women who died while on the way to a revival service last week were laid to rest Tuesday. The third funeral is taking place today.
Lighthouse of Jesus Christ Bishop Floyd Knowlin watched last Wednesday night as the three members of his congregation died in a traffic accident on Highway 17A in Jamestown.
On Sunday, he began the long task of trying to help his congregation heal from the tragedy.
It was the first of four services this week.
Most of the Sunday service at the church, located on Johnson Road, was spent in praise and worship as the members prayed for God’s guidance.
While the service was a remembrance of all three women who died — Edith Jackson, 55, Angie Arthur, 45, both of Georgetown, and Loris resident Melvira Johnson, 51 — they had separate funerals this week.
The funerals for Jackson and Johnson were held Tuesday while Arthur’s service is today.
All three women were in an SUV. Also in that vehicle was Arthur’s husband, Johnny. He was badly injured, and was still at the Medical University hospital Tuesday. He has broken bones and his liver was punctured, according to Knowlin.
On Sunday, Knowlin said Mr. Arthur “has come a long way.” He said at first his chances of survival were slim but now doctors “have great hope” he will recover.
The tragedy occurred at about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday while many members of the church were en route to a church in Russellville near St. Stephen. Knowlin and nine other members of his church were in a van in front of the SUV.
Knowlin said a passing car hit the utility trailer the van was pulling which led to a five-car wreck.
Steven Morse, 36, of Jamestown was the driver of another car involved in the crash. He died from body trauma, Berkeley County Coroner Bill Salisbury said.
The S.C. Highway Patrol has not yet completed its investigation. They said they don't know how long that process will take.
Knowlin — who said he received more than 3,000 calls just on Thursday — said when the accident occurred his daughter and a male church member worked to get Mr. Arthur out of the SUV which caught fire but it was too late to save the three women.
He said he watched in horror as the women — all part of the Lighthouse Women’s Choir — perished.
“I thought I saw more than I should have seen that night. I was trying to save my sheep,” Knowlin said. “God told me I saw just enough. Some parts I have not shared with anyone. This is not the time. I will share it when the time is right.
Knowlin said he had been warned something bad was going to happen at his church although he did not know until last Wednesday what the situation would be.
He said gospel singer Shirley Caeser was at a conference he attended in early October.
“She told me a storm will soon hit Lighthouse. This is the storm,” he said, adding some church members reminded him of Caeser’s prophesy while they were on the scene Wednesday night.
Time for healing
Knowlin said he wants his congregation — and the friends and family of the women — to know that it’s OK to grieve but you should not grieve without hope.
“We will see them again. We have got to live this life with the strong hope that things will get better,” he said. “I cannot say ‘Lighthouse don’t cry’ because I have my moments.”
When asked how he will advise those who are grieving what they should still be thankful for this Thanksgiving, Knowlin quoted Paul from the book of First Thessalonians.
“In all things we are to give thanks. This is the will of God. You can be thankful when you know your loved ones are ready to meet the Lord. All three of these women were saved,” he said.
By Scott Harper
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