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Thousands Mourn Slain Pastor

October 11, 2003|From Associated Press

ATLANTA — Thousands of friends, family and church members gathered Friday to mourn an Atlanta minister who was gunned down at his church by a worshipper before the start of services Sunday.

The Rev. Johnny Clyde Reynolds was remembered as a pastor and labor leader who brought people together.

"He was the one with the deep, soothing voice, the gentle hugs and the billion-dollar smile that he shared so often," said Reynolds' niece, Shawanda Cobb. "He was a father figure, a friend and a confidant."

Mourners packed into St. Paul AME Church, where the services had been moved to accommodate the large crowd. An overflow group of hundreds watched the service on a big screen from a community center next door.

Shelia W. Chaney Wilson opened fire Sunday at Turner Monumental AME Church, killing her mother, 67-year-old Jennie Mae Robinson, and Reynolds, 62, before committing suicide.

Church members have said Wilson, 43, was agitated when she came to the church early Sunday morning. Police said Wilson had a history of mental health problems.

Funerals for Wilson and Robinson are scheduled for today.

Bishop Frank C. Cummings, who heads the AME church's Atlanta district, said Reynolds worked diligently to help others.

"It didn't matter what color you were, where you lived," Cummings said. "This brother brought people together."

Reynolds was also remembered for his involvement with unions. At the time of his death, Reynolds was vice president of the Washington-based International Amalgamated Transit Union. The union is the largest labor organization representing transit workers in the U.S. and Canada, and it has more than 180,000 members.

Reynolds began working for Atlanta's public transportation system as a bus driver in 1966.

"For me, it's disbelief. I spent all day Sunday trying to convince myself they had the names mixed up," said Wilford Spears, a retired union official.

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