By Kay Harms

North Phoenix Baptist Church and Pastor Noe Garcia hosted a memorial service for Senator John McCain, Thursday, Aug. 30, in the church’s worship center. The Arizona senator, 81, died Saturday, Aug. 25.

According to news reports, Senator McCain had been planning his memorial services since being diagnosed with brain cancer last fall. So, while there were additional services memorializing McCain over the span of five days, the decision to have the Arizona service at North Phoenix Baptist Church was the senator’s.

In fact, the McCain family has considered the Phoenix congregation to be their church family since 1991, when Cindy McCain was baptized there. McCain, who had been raised Episcopalian, was not baptized in the church, but had attended with his family over the years.

“Senator McCain was a man of courage and faith, and he loved his family,” said a spokesperson for North Phoenix. “He and his wife,, Cindy have been part of the North Phoenix community for many years and we are committed to ministering to and praying for them during this difficult time.”

Another spokesperson for the church reported that Pastor Garcia walked with the family through the days of McCain’s battle with cancer and was honored to minister to Mrs. McCain and the other family members after his passing.

Following a military processional into the church, Garcia welcomed the full room of attenders to the 10 a.m. memorial service and then offered the opening prayer. The rest of the program was diverse, with music from several Arizona groups, Scripture readings and eulogies. Speakers included Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Grant Woods, who served as McCain’s first chief of staff and later as Arizona attorney general. Each of them mentioned McCain’s faith in God, among other attributes.

At the end of the service, Garcia read words written by McCain’s daughter Meghan. Then he proclaimed that the senator “is more alive than he’s ever been.” McCain’s pastor declared that the senator believed that God had sent His only Son, who had died on the cross for his sins and rose again victorious over sin and death. Garcia then closed by praying for the grieving family and thanking those who had attended the service.

The family and military guard accompanied McCain’s casket from the sanctuary to a recording of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.”