Pastor Edward Montgomery, a marriage counselor at Full Gospel Christian Assemblies International in Hazel Crest, Ill., allegedly shot himself inside his home Nov. 30. According to news accounts, his mother and son were present at his home at the time.
Montgomery, 48, also a railroad conductor, had been mourning the death of his wife, Prophetess Jackie Montgomery, who died Dec. 6, 2012 of complications from an aneurism. The two were reportedly extremely close. Jackie Montgomery, an ordained minister like her husband, partnered with him to oversee the assembly’s marriage ministry, said the Apostle Ron Wilson, Full Gospel’s senior pastor.
Montgomery’s death follows by only 20 days the suicide of the Rev. Teddy Parker Jr., pastor of Bibb Mount Zion Baptist Church in Macon, Ga., on Nov. 10. Parker, who was married and had two daughters, killed himself on a Sunday morning as his family and congregation waited for him to go to church to preach.
Wilson said media reports that Edward Montgomery told people he had been hearing his wife speak to him and hearing her footsteps were unsubstantiated. He said the couple’s daughter, Mikia, 27, to whom the comments were attributed, denied making them.
“Their kids are really distraught over that,” Wilson said. “Someone posted that on Facebook.”
Wilson described Montgomery as a “jovial, supportive, energetic guy” who was well-liked in the congregation of 1,500 members. The assembly is located in a suburb of Chicago. Montgomery and his wife had been heading the marriage ministry for a decade. Wilson said he ordained them and put them in charge after noting “their positive qualities” and the power of their own relationship not long after they transferred to the house of worship.
He said he believes Montgomery took his life because he was still distraught over the loss of his wife a year ago during the holidays, which were special for him.
Montgomery, godfather to several children, and his wife would purchase many gifts for children each year, he said.
“He was a good guy, but he was grieving over the death of his wife a year ago,” Wilson said. “Losing someone to sudden death like that is very difficult. You can’t prepare for it. I don’t care how much you try, you are just not prepared for something like that.”
Wilson said the congregation is preparing for Montgomery’s funeral, scheduled for Dec. 9 at the assembly. They are also rallying around the couple’s children—Trent, 19, and Mikia. Besides his children, Montgomery is survived by his parents, his wife’s parents and several other relatives, the senior pastor said.
“He had isolated himself ,” Wilson said. “It was definitely a suicide. We were stunned.”
He said as a conductor, Montgomery regularly missed Sunday services. He said Montgomery appeared fine the last time he saw him, about a month ago.
“He was jovial and happy,” Wilson said “I was surprised that he was looking so happy.”
Wilson, however, did not want to discuss his last conversation with Montgomery.
Wilson said he counsels the 10 assistant pastors who work with him to keep their responsibilities in perspective and advises them that they should step back and let him know if they get overwhelmed. Research shows that a significant percentage of pastors kill themselves due to the high stress of the job.
Wilson said he works out, plays racquetball and travels to help him handle the stress.
“Pastors are people too and everybody should respect the office of pastor and what they have to do,” Wilson said.
A story in the Christian Post said the suicide was confirmed by an official at the Village of Matteson Police Department. The official told the newspaper that police were awaiting the result of lab tests in the investigation.