Family remembers pastor struck and killed outside Siler City restaurant

MORRISVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The family of a Morrisville pastor struck and killed while waiting for his order outside a Siler City restaurant Friday plans to hold an event to celebrate his life Saturday.

"It's almost overwhelming how many people loved him," said his wife, Dee, who now serves as senior pastor.

Mark McKinney started New Life Church in Morrisville with his wife and son Matthew 23 years ago, helping grow the church from three people to hundreds of congregants.

"He was wonderful. He always put people first," said Matthew, who now serves as associate pastor.

McKinney, 64, was killed and three others injured when a car crashed into customers and then the building at Johnson's Drive-In, a popular hamburger restaurant.

The driver faces charges in the deadly crash.

"One of his greatest loves was being a grandpa and horsing around making people laugh," Dee said.

They've credited faith and support from the church community in helping them process his passing.

"Daddy loved to laugh. It was his favorite thing to do. So in the hard times, we make a choice to laugh or to cry. And to take a step forward instead of backward," said Matthew.

Dee also is leaning on her faith.

"The verse that has been administered to me or helping me is 'Ye though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for God is with me. His rod and his staff may comfort me.' And I've just meditated on that," said Dee.

Dee and her husband often traveled internationally, spreading gospel and attending religious conferences. Their work made an impact, as Dee noted she received a long condolence e-mail from someone they had met during a trip to Croatia.

"Every morning he got up, and he was in that chair. And you know what -- he was a man of prayer and he prayed for the church, he prayed for his family," said Dee.

The McKinneys were married for 41 years; when they met, Dee was widowed from a previous marriage, and had a young daughter who Mark adopted.

"I think the thing that I learned (from her first husband's passing) is to take one step at a time. And if you need to cry, cry. I mean, that's it. It's not going to be an instantaneous thing. It's something that you have to walk through," said Dee.

The celebration of life event will take place Saturday at the church, 10260 Chapel Hill Road in Morrisville and will be streamed on its Facebook page. Donations in Pastor McKinney's memory will go toward the church.
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