Preacher Dies During Sermon About Heaven

OVIEDO, Fla. – A Presbyterian minister collapsed and died in mid-sentence of a sermon after saying “And when I go to heaven …,” his colleague said Monday.

The Rev. Jack Arnold, 69, was nearing the end of his sermon Sunday at Covenant Presbyterian Church in this Orlando suburb when he grabbed the podium before falling to the floor, said the Rev. Michael S. Beates, associate pastor at Covenant Presbyterian.

Before collapsing, Arnold quoted the 18th century Bible scholar, John Wesley, who said, “Until my work on this earth is done, I am immortal. But when my work for Christ is done … I go to be with Jesus,” Beates said in a telephone interview.

Several members of the congregation with medical backgrounds tried to revive the minister and paramedics were called, but Arnold appeared to die instantly, Beates said.

Arnold had been the senior minister at the church until the late 1990s when he began traveling to Africa and the Middle East to teach pastors. The cause of death was believed to be cardiac arrest. He had bypass surgery five years earlier.

Beates also recounted Arnold’s death in an e-mail he sent to members of the Central Florida Presbytery.

“We were stunned,” Beates said. “It was traumatic, but how wonderful it was he died in his own church among the people he loved the most.”

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