GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - South Mississippi is losing another one of its leaders. Sunday, members of Riley United Methodist Church and St. Mark honored the work of the Rev. Zachary Beasley as he prepares for his next journey.
"He is just one of a kind in making a difference in our community for helping the community," said Amanda Breckenridge with the South Mississippi AIDS Task Force. "I can't tell you the number of years ago that I met Reverend Beasley, because he was having a community event to try to pull all the ministers in this community together, along with other key social workers and agencies that deal with HIV and AIDS."
In addition to preaching the gospel, the Reverend Beasley is known for stepping outside of the church to take on taboo issues like HIV and AIDS and South Mississippi's homeless.
Now, as he prepares to take his hard work and dedication to a new community, people are reflecting on the 19 years Beasley served the coast.
"He leads with such grace and people follow him willingly, and that's a skill that I admire," said Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr.
Mayor Warr's admiration for the Reverend Beasley is what led him to appoint the pastor to Gulfport's planning commission.
"The leaders in our churches are our community leaders," said Mayor Warr. "They're our best community leaders, and you see that all over the city of Gulfport. And if we forget about our faith when we enter municipal experience, we are taking away from our community."
Beasley's fellow planning commission member, Virginia Adolph, agrees.
"He's played a great role in terms of working with community regardless of preference, regardless of race, age, gender, anything. He has truly been a man of God in this community," said Adolph.
Beasley said serving is what he was called to do.
"I believe that as far as Christianity is concerned, pastors are not just called to churches to work within the walls of the church," said the Rev. Beasley. "The work of the church is outside the walls of the church. There are so many things out there that call our attention to God's word, and that has a lot to do with how we are called as individuals."
The Reverend Zachary Beasley will pastor just two more Sundays at Riley and St. Mark United Methodist Church before moving on to his new church home in Canton, Mississippi.