CONWAY, Ark. — The Central Baptist Church Conway congregation is hurting after learning the pastor’s wife died of COVID-19.
“It’s a significant loss to our faith family,” said Ben South, associate pastor.
Maggie Chandler, wife of Pastor Don Chandler, lost her battle with COVID-19 at a Conway hospital Tuesday night.
The couple began their journey at the church 40 years ago.
Maggie played a key role in the women’s ministry and taught life group.
She’s was a writer, an author to several books, loved her family, kids, and grandchildren.
Maggie also worked alongside Governor Mike Huckabee as an administrative assistant.
But she’s mostly remembered as someone who loved everyone.
“Maggie, when you met her, it ended with a hug. Everyone just loved her and she genuinely loved,” said South.
Many members of the Chandler family have COVID-19, including the couple’s daughter, who is still battling the virus from her ICU bed.
The mother and daughter fought their battles together in side-by-side hospital rooms.
Now, the church family is praying their pastor’s daughter pulls through.
“In these difficult days, we are leaning into our faith. We are leaning into the families and loving them, caring for them, and ministering to one another,” said South.
In May, the church resumed to in-person services after going all virtual during the early months of the pandemic.
Though the congregation did everything they felt they could do to keep church members safe, staff said roughly 25 members tested positive for COVID-19.
The Arkansas Department of Health is also aware of the COVID-19 cases and are in contact with the church.
Meanwhile, the congregation has canceled in-person services until further notice and they ask everyone for prayers during these difficult times.
“Faith is what holds us together in these difficult times,” said South.
A memorial service date has not been set yet for Chandler.
The family asks in lieu of flowers to make donations to the Central Baptist Church ministry.