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Church community mourns after long-time Greensboro pastor dies suddenly

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Friendly Avenue Baptist Church is mourning the loss of their pastor Dr. Pat Cronin. Cronin died suddenly early Sunday morning when he suffered a massive heart attack while driving he and his wife to their home in Oak Ridge from the airport.

Rob Miller is the worship pastor at the church and said Cronin drove off the road and into a field after the heart attack. Cronin's wife was not injured in the crash.

Church members learned the news Sunday morning and are devastated. "He's been a real good friend, I've lost a good friend and our church is obviously hurting right now, but what we find is that the Lord has given us strength to get through it and we feel like we will," Miller said.

Cronin became the pastor at Friendly Avenue Baptist church in 1995. Cronin made many marks on the church and the community. You can see one of them this weekend at Four Seasons Town Centre. For 14 years the church hosted the community inside their building to listen to their "living Christmas tree," a tree made up of the church choir, accompanied by an orchestra, and singing Christmas classics.

This year Miller says it was Cronin's idea to move the Christmas tree to the mall in order to let more people enjoy the music. Miller and others were at the mall in the middle of the night setting up the tree when they got the news their pastor had been in a tragic accident.

Miller says he and the others are going to finish the project and make sure they carryout Cronin's vision for ministering to the community.

"Our goal is to share the love of Christ to people at the mall while they are shopping and we think we can do that better through song than any other way," Miller said. "It was his idea to come here. For us to not to, it in a sense it would be to dishonor him," Miller continued.

You can enjoy the living Christmas tree this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Shows will run every 45 minutes and last 25 minutes. You can find the tree in the amphitheater area of the mall.

A family visitation for Dr. Cronin will be held Wednesday, Dec. 7, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Friendly Avenue Baptist Church. A funeral service will be held Thursday, Dec. 8, at 11 a.m. at Friendly Avenue Baptist Church.