The longtime minister of a prominent Columbus church died early Sunday morning due to complications from the COVID-19 virus, his congregation was informed.
Senior Pastor Andy Merritt has been at Edgewood Baptist Church since 1977, leading a congregation that has grown over the years.
He had been hospitalized for 22 days before his passing.
The brief message sent to the Edgewood family early Sunday morning read that his death was being announced with “utmost sadness.”
“But we rejoice that he is now in the arms of his Savior,” it read. “Please be in prayer for his wife, Kathy, children, grandchildren, sister, brother and his entire family.”
The notice said there would be a brief service during the traditional morning worship at the Forest Road church.
One of his children, Carrie Strickland, confirmed her dad’s passing.
“We welcome, and are grateful, for the support and prayers,” Strickland wrote in a text.
Merritt was 68 years old. He has his wife, Kathy, were married for 46 years. They have 10 children and 25 grandchildren.
The church established the nation’s first church-sponsored Pregnancy Center Ministry, and assisted in the establishment of more than 500 pregnancy centers throughout the nation, according to the Edgewood Baptist website.