Watch CBSN Live

Dallas pastor dies after giving sermon to congregation

(CBS News) DALLAS - A veteran Texas pastor gave the last sermon of his life Sunday, collapsing and dying in front of a crowded sanctuary of churchgoers after preaching that morning.

Rev. Jerome McNeil, Senior Pastor of Christian Chapel CME Church in Dallas, had served the community there for 21 years, reported CBS local affiliate KTVT.

"All of a sudden I heard a thud and I didn't know what it was. I looked around and he was gone," church member Cherry Bullard told KTVT correspondent Steve Pickett. "It hurts to even think about it, but he's in a better place."

McNeil's charismatic leadership helped the 150-year-old institution known as the Temple of Faith expand from a small chapel to a church that now has 7,000 members.

Before he was a pastor, he was the first black administrator for a Dallas County agency, second in command for the Juvenile Department in 1981.