Local pastor recovering, thanks community for support during illness

Tonya Spence

Pastor Jerome Spence has been a pastor at Mount Vernon Baptist Church for 10 years.

Pastor Jerome Spence suffered a stroke in October.

Local pastor Jerome Spence and his wife, Tonya, said their faith had grown even stronger since Spence was home just before Christmas.

Jerome is pastor of Mount Vernon Baptist Church on Pinson Street in Newnan. He has been a pastor for over 30 years and a pastor at Mount Vernon for 10 years. He is also an educator at Poplar Road Primary School. Spence suffered a stroke in October and also had to undergo two brain surgeries after a brain tumor was discovered. Although life has not been the same, his wife said she was very happy and amazed at her husband’s improvement.

“He’s doing great,” Tonya said. “He started physiotherapy this week and he will have to go twice a week at the moment. We live in a split-level house, and he’s able to climb up and down those stairs as well as I do – probably better. We are not letting him go alone yet. He is doing very well.

Jerome also suffered from memory loss, but Tonya said her memories came back every day.

“He still needs to heal some,” Tonya said. “He sometimes has trouble articulating things. He knows what he’s trying to say, it’s just hard to say sometimes.

When he sits down and relaxes, it comes out the way he needs it.

Tonya said her husband amazed her and was a strong fighter. She said he could wash himself and do other chores that she didn’t expect him to be able to do right now.

Tonya said she and her husband have not yet been able to attend the service. Reverend Stanley Seldon has been filling and preaching since Jerome was ill. She hopes to return to church in about a month. She said she wanted to give COVID-19 time to calm down and wanted Jerome to heal a bit more.

“That’s the main reason,” she said. “He’s doing great and could really go back at the moment, but I don’t want him getting sick with anything else.”

Tonya said the hardest part of this trip was when her husband wasn’t home.

“It was difficult for everyone,” she said. “We’re not used to him not being there. He is very important in our family. He plans our vacations, he’s our driver, everything. He took care of all the bills and some things around the house. When he fell, I fell. I found strength in God because I had to. He’s the man who kept it all together.

Tonya and Jerome have four adult sons together and six grandchildren, who she says are there most weekends. The couple love children and have been adoptive parents for three years.

“We had four adopted children, but one of them left just before Christmas,” she said. “We have had our three other children in foster care for three years. We love children, and he is the center of it.

She said she could see her husband return to work next year. He has been teaching for more than 30 years and did not expect to retire within three years.

Alkina Avery works with Jerome at Poplar Road. She said the pastor is very humble.

“He is always ready to help when needed and lend a hand,” she said. “He has a very pleasant personality and spirit, which is really needed in our schools.”

Pastor Spence is very grateful for the help from the community, family and friends.

“We want to express our gratitude to the communities here, in our hometown and everywhere for all the support and love,” Jerome said. “We received support from all over the world. Candlelight vigils were held from California to Georgia. The way churches and pastors have reached out and shown their love is amazing. Even my high school and college classmates reached out. But above all, we are grateful to our Lord and Saviour. We are truly blessed.

Tonya said the couple still needed the prayers to keep coming.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family with medical and other expenses. To donate, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/to-… .