Bishop Tom Diamond had an eventful Sunday, October 31 when Congresswoman Brown, candidate for Governor of Florida, Alex Sink and State Representative Audrey Gibson visited his church and joined in fellowship. Bishop Diamond’s sermon was: How to Stay Calm in the Storm. His message was strong and moving. After his dynamic sermon, the bishop stopped and took pictures with his special guest. No one even thought that the pictures taken would be his last pictures.
Bishop Tom E. Diamond, Senior Pastor of Abyssinia Missionary Baptist Church died Monday of sudden heart failure. He was 67. Bishop Diamond served as Pastor of the 2000 member church for the past 26 years.
Born in Perry, Bishop Diamond was reared in Lake Wales. He received a bachelor’s degree in English from Florida Memorial College. He received his master of divinity degree from Colgate Rochester (N.Y.) Divinity School and his doctorate of ministry degree from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga.
His first pastorate was in 1975 at St. Peter’s Missionary Baptist Church in Gifford, Fla., before accepting the pastorate at Abyssinia here in 1984, he was pastor of Mount Bethel Missionary accepting the pastorate at Abyssinia here in 1984, he was pastor of Mount Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Daytona Beach.
One of Bishop Diamond’s sons, the Rev. Eugene Diamond, was named co-pastor in 1998 and was elevated to pastor in 2002 when his father was named senior pastor.
In November 1999, the church, which had been a fixture on Kings Road just west of Edward Waters College for more than two decades, purchased 10 acres of land in North Jacksonville on Interstate Center Drive just west of I-95. The church moved to its new sanctuary in 2005.
Bishop Diamond was a former president of the Florida General Baptist Congress of General Education and taught preachers on growing churches through Sunday school as a teacher of the ministers division of the National Congress of Christian Education.
He was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, the Baptist Ministers Alliance and the NAACP. He authored several books, including “Book of Sermons – Not Much Just Crumbs,” “Sermons from the Heart of the Diamond Mind,” and “From Boys to Men.”
Known for his strong involvement in civil rights, Bishop Diamond led numerous demonstration and challenged issues that were pertinent to the well being of local citizens. He received various awards from his work and became well known throughout the country for his preaching and teaching style.
“Bishop was a dynamic Father, Pastor, Husband, and friend” says Eric Sparrow, a staff member of the church. “Jacksonville and the country have lost one of its greatest.”
Bishop Diamond is survived by his wife of 46 years, Lois B. Diamond: another son, Minister Roderick Diamond of Jacksonville; eight grandchildren; and three brothers, Bennett Diamond of Albany, Ga.; Oscar Patterson of Adel, Ga.; and Willie Hill Jr. of Jacksonville.
Homegoing services for Bishop Diamond will be Saturday, November 6 at 11:00 a.m. at Abyssinia Missionary Baptist Church.
Congresswoman Corrine Brown said, “We are all deeply and profoundly sadden by the tragic and sudden loss of the Reverend Tom Diamond, of Abyssinia Missionary Baptist Church, whom I considered as a personal friend and spiritual leader. Tom Diamond was a man of great stature and one who was blessed with the passion to serve his community. A man who was dedicated to living the true word and who took his truths from the pulpit to the streets, teaching, preaching and reminding us of our obligation to ourselves and to our community. He is to be remembered for his dedication, determination and his unwavering belief in the sanctity of the Holy word and its practice in service to mankind.
We offer our prayers for Mrs. Diamond and the Diamond family, his parishioners and the community he so dearly loved. We are indebted to Reverend Tom Diamond for all his good works and his love for all of us as shown as a true advocate for peace, justice and fairness.”