BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Briarwood Presbyterian Church members returned to their sanctuary for a Sunday morning worship service without Harry Reeder as their senior pastor for the first time in 24 years.

Reeder died in a car crash Thursday morning in Shelby County.

“He was my beloved mentor, friend, and I will miss him terribly,” Alabama State Senator Dan Roberts said.

Roberts told CBS 42 he was with Reeder Thursday for a prayer breakfast in Montgomery hours before his death. Roberts said Reeder’s servant leadership will be missed.

“He thrived on the fact on how to help any churches that are struggling become effective churches,” Roberts said. “’Well’ is the word that he would use for them, and he gave his life to helping others replicate not only what we do here, but what you see happening successfully around the country and around the world.”

Briarwood Presbyterian Church member Donna Markert said Reeder’s messages brought a bright light to the world.

“He pointed us to Jesus, and he faithfully did it in the pulpit,” Markert said. “I would just hope the Briarwood community would just advance he gospel as we go out into the world and glorify God in all that we do.”

The celebration of life for Reeder will be Wednesday at 1 p.m. at Briarwood Presbyterian Church.