The Brooklyn church community is mourning the tragic death of a popular pastor killed in a traffic accident last month.
The clergywoman tripped in a dip in the street and fell and then was struck by an SUV. Now, the church is grieving for one of its spiritual leaders who took care of so many during her life.
The New York Police Department said on Feb. 18, Aracely Courtenay, 50, was attempting to cross East 21st St in Flatbush at 7 p.m. when she was hit by a 2015 Toyota Highlander heading north on that street and turned right onto Ditmas Avenue.
Courtenay, the wife of Bishop Curt Courtenay, the overseeing pastor of the church, suffered head trauma from the accident. Emergency workers transported her to the Kings County Hospital Center. Upon arrival, doctors pronounced the mother of three dead.
The 58-year-old man driving the SUV stayed at the scene of the accident until officers arrived. He was not charged with her death. The NYPD did not respond to questions about the probability of charges in the case or why the driver was exempted from charges. However, a spokesperson for the department said nothing criminal occurred.
The church posted a tribute to the woman and on its Facebook shared how the bereaved community is coping with the loss.
“Emmanuel Family, it is with a heavy heart that we share with you the untimely and unexpected passing of our beloved Pastor Aracely Courtenay, our 1st Lady. Family at this time we must keep our 1st family in our prayers,” the note said.
“Our Bishop, her children Gesai, Curt Jr., and Kayris will need our prayers and strength even more at this time,” it continued. “We ask that you respectfully give them time to process this news and we will ensure we communicate all needed memorial information to you as a family in due time.”
The church concluded, “Again, your prayers are most needed at this time for God’s strength and as a family, we will support and love on each other through this.”
Courtenay was not only the “first lady” of the Emmanuel Church of God, a worship house about a half-mile from the accident but also served as the assistant pastor.
In this capacity, according to Emmanuel’s website, she dedicated “her life to encouraging, counseling and assisting women of all ages to arise out of their situations.” It was out of this passion that she led the Talitha Cumi Women’s Ministry at the church, a ministry to inspire and motivate women based on the biblical character in Mark 5:41 in the Bible.
Her ecclesial work is an extension of some of the work she did in her career. Professionally, she served in property management and coordinated housing for low- and moderate-income families, with a concentration on aiding single mothers.
According to her bio, Courteney had an “expertise is instrumental in developing upcoming ministers” and coordinated “local and international food and clothing drives and a yearly back-to-school drive that distributes free school supplies.”
Her son Curt Courtenay told ABC 7 News, “There was so much more she wanted to do. For all of us, trying to continue the missions she started.”
Condolences from the many people that she touched poured in on social media. But also, clergy gave remarks during the church’s Sunday service the day after her death. During the service, the members openly wept, grieving for their departed pastor.
One minister said, “We come with heavy hearts because of the loss of our very own first lady. So we are a church that is brokenhearted this morning. But we have hope that we will see her again.”