Nearly 7 years ago pastor Steve Campbell used a Sunday service to dedicate the new Snowdoun Baptist Church. Campbell had a special guest in the congregation that day.. Reverend Gary Aldridge.
"Gary was a dear friend of mine," Campbell said.
Reverend Gary Aldridge was found dead in his home in east Montgomery. He was the senior pastor at Thorington Road Baptist Church for the last 15 years.
Campbell says he and Aldridge went way back. In fact, when Campbell felt the gentle push to become a minister, it was Gary Aldridge who encouraged him to answer the call.
"He was a great encourager. I'll always be grateful to him for that," said Campbell.
In his office at Snowdoun Baptist Church, Campbell showed us some pictures of a missionary trip he and Aldridge had taken a few years ago. Pastor Campbell remembered a man who was real, no pretense, a man who gave of himself.
Gary Aldridge graduated from Liberty University and later worked for the late Jerry Falwell. A former colleague at the school remembered him as well.
"He went on to become one of the deans and the students loved him. He had a tremendous impact on them," said Dr. Bob Miller of Liberty University.
As investigators try to figure out what happened, Steve Campbell says this is by far the hardest thing he's ever had to go through yet despite the loss of a close, personal friend, Steve Campbell says he won't even bother asking 'why.'
"It's easy to get into that which is understandable but I believe God is still in control," Campbell said.
Campbell says he last talked with Aldridge by phone two weeks ago. He described it as a 'light-hearted' conversation with no hint of trouble.
Campbell tells us there will be a prayer service Tuesday night in memory of Gary Aldridge. That service begins at 7 o clock at the Thorington Road Baptist Church.