Members of St. John Missionary Baptist Church recently helped to celebrate the Rev. Harold Thomas’ 85th birthday, and his 37th year of leading the church.
In the midst of COVID-19, the church couldn’t host the gathering it wanted, so it adapted to the times, according to Bermice Thomas, the pastor’s wife, who provided information about the event.
Church members outfitted Thomas with a “Birthday King” robe and crown, and had a surprise luncheon — adhering to COVID-19 social distancing.
Festivities included a parade of law enforcement officers from the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office and the Dade City Police Department — complete with lights and sirens, the pastor’s wife reported.
Pastor Thomas has “humbly served” at the church, located at 14549 Eighth St., in Dade City, his wife said, via email.
She thanked ANA’s Devine Events for providing beautiful decorations for the church’s dining area.
She said the pastor’s birthday was on July 21, but members decided it would be more of a surprise if they had the party on July 19 — the same day as church service.
Those attending the morning service were invited to share in the lunch.
The luncheon foods came from Olive Garden and Wingstop.
Bermice Thomas said her husband rode with her to Wesley Chapel to pick up the chicken wings — one of his favorite foods.
His wife said she drove slowly deliberately, to ensure they arrived at the church close to the arranged time of the law enforcement parade.
The pastor became somewhat suspicious when she got of the car quickly, to go into the church.
“The cars were waiting to proceed at 1 p.m. sharp starting at the corner of Sumner Avenue and 10th Street,” she reported. “As the sirens got closer, Rev. Thomas, as well as everyone, came out to the covered sidewalk to see what was going on and why the sirens were so close.
“When the officers turned into the church parking lot with all the bells and whistles, my husband asked what was going on.
“The officers got out of their vehicles and those gathered began singing Happy Birthday, and each officer came up to congratulate him on 85 years,” Bermice Thomas’ email says.
Even though the officers could not stay to enjoy lunch, the pastor’s wife said, “I’d like to thank Chief Walters and the Dade City Police department for sharing in this wonderful blessing.”
She also appreciated the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office for being there.
Pastor Thomas was moved to tears by the touching tribute, her email says.
Published August 05, 2020