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Large Crowd Turns Out For Pastor's Funeral

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Pastor Jeff Rollins Pastor Jeff Rollins

Hundreds of people packed the First Baptist Church of Springfield Wednesday morning to pay their respects for longtime Senior Pastor Dr. Jeffrey Rollins.

Pastor Rollins, 55, died Saturday night in a one vehicle crash on Highway 119 in South Carolina just over the state border with Georgia.

 A medical condition is believed to have caused Rollins to run off the road and strike a tree.

Pastor Rollins led the congregation since 1989 and has been in ministry for more than 25 years, according to the church's website.  In fact, the church celebrated his 25th anniversary last week.

Longtime friend Dr. Darren W. Thomas gave the eulogy.

Pastor Thomas told the crowd that Rollins inspired him to become a minister when he was a teenager.

He spoke about Pastor Rollins' faith in God, his love for his family and how he was always there for anyone who needed him -- no matter how busy he was.

There were some light moments when Brother Thomas talked about numerous trips to Atlanta including one where Rollins was allowed to take the controls of a small jet.

He also talked about how frugal Rollins was and joked that he could have a bit of a temper.

It came out one time when he grabbed a shotgun and fired into the air to scare-off a group of buzzards that were destroying the church's roof.

But Pastor Thomas also told a story about how Pastor Rollins rescued a stray kitten that was in the church's parking lot on a cold day.

He took it inside and put it in an office with a bowl of water.

When he came back the next day, the blinds were destroyed.

Pastor Rollins also had a love for The Andy Griffith Show.

A clip of an episode was played for the crowd.

The episode was about a busy businessman whose car broke down on a Sunday.

The businessman, who was passing through to a meeting, complained about how everything was closed and he needed his car fixed immediately.

By the end of the episode, he came to realize that he needed to slow down.

And that's what Pastor Rollins wanted people to do: to slow down and take time for themselves, their family and especially God.

Rollins' program included this quote from Andy Griffith, "I firmly believe that in every situation, no matter how difficult, God extends grace greater than the hardship, and strength and peace of mind that can lead us to a place higher than where we were before."

An old police car from The Andy Griffith Show sat outside the First Baptist Church of Springfield for today's funeral.

Rollins is survived by his wife, Dorothy Sheppard Rollins; children, Melissa Rollins Jones (Robbie), Rachel Rollins Horton (Justin), Michael Christopher Rollins (Brandi), and Rebecca Hope Rollins; grandchildren, Rylan, Jaylee, Melanie, Jincee, Mia, Max, Jaxson; his parents, Johnny Eugene and Geraldine Carter Rollins; sister, Joy Sauers; and a number of nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his brother, Johnny Eugene Rollins, Jr.

Pastor Rollins was a close friend of my family.

He baptized my husband, sister-in-law and brothers-in-law.

He was a dear friend of my father-in-law and visited with him just days before he died.

Pastor Rollins will be greatly missed amongst my family as well as the entire Springfield community.




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