Thousands pay final respects to Phoenix bishop Alexis Thomas

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church) (Source: Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Thousands of people packed the Phoenix Convention Center to pay their final respects to Bishop Alexis Thomas of Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church who died at the age of 50.

“You’d go to church on a Sunday morning and wonder how does he know,” said Robbie McDonald a member of Pilgrim Rest Church. She described Thomas as “A giant. A man who has touched the lives of so many people.”

[RELATED: Phoenix bishop Alexis Thomas dies at 50]

At the age of 16, Thomas was named Senior Pastor of Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church, which at the time had 200 members.

Thomas led the church for 33 years until he died unexpectedly in January 2018. In his 3 decades leading one of the largest congregations in Phoenix, Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church grew to 3 thousand people, and a brand new church campus at 15th and Jefferson Streets.

Thomas was known for being a voice in the community, marching hand-in-hand with Rev. Al Sharpton, against the politics of controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

[RELATED: Public viewing, memorial service announced for Phoenix bishop Alexis Thomas]

Thomas was well-respected by Phoenix leadership, including Mayor Greg Stanton and Sheriff Paul Penzone who attended Thomas’ viewing.

Bishop Thomas leaves behind his wife and 5 children. 

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