The co-founder of one of Southeast Raleigh’s most prominent churches has died, a little more than two months after her husband and fellow pastor passed away.
Lady JoeNell Summerfield died Saturday at age 61. She and her husband, Bishop Frank Summerfield, founded Word of God Fellowship in Raleigh 22 years ago and served as co-pastors there. He died in July at the age of 67.
Bishop T.D. Jakes, a nationally known televangelist, author and pastor of The Potter’s House in Dallas, will preside over Summerfield’s funeral, said Travis Fowles, a spokesman for Word of God.
“She was loving, caring, virtuous, direct and nurturing. She had a heart for people,” Fowles said. “She was supportive of her husband and the vision that God had given him.”
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Fowler did not disclose a cause of death for Summerfield, but he said she had battling an illness for about a year. Following her husband’s death, Summerfield had relinquished her daily pastoral duties and was “resting, grieving and trying to regain her strength.”
The congregation’s senior pastor, Mitchell Summerfield, the couple’s second oldest son, still relied on her as an “overseer” who provided guidance and instruction.
Summerfield was born Aug. 7, 1956. She was a native of Fuquay-Varina and was married to Frank Summerfield for 40 years. The two met while her husband, a native of Newark, N.J., was working for the City of Raleigh.
“They met when he was on a job assignment,” Fowles said.
The Summerfields leave behind an impressive Christian legacy in North Carolina’s capital city.
In addition to starting the church, they established on the church grounds a day care center and the Word of God Academy. It is known for producing basketball players, including former N.C. State University standout C.J. Leslie and former University of Kentucky basketball player John Wall, the top-rated point guard in the high school class of 2009 and now an all-NBA star with the Washington Wizards.
Lady JoeNell Summerfield is survived by the couple’s four children – Frank Jr., Mitchell, Joshua and Valisha.
A tribute worship service for Summerfield will take place at 10 a.m. Sunday at Word of God Fellowship, 3000 Rock Quarry Road.
A 10 a.m. until 11 a.m. wake on Monday at Word of God Fellowship will be followed by an 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. home-going service and celebration of her life.
Thomasi McDonald: 919-829-4533, @thomcdonald