WINSTON-SALEM, NC -- It's been a very busy 24 hours at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Winston-Salem.
And it's just about all anyone, including Pastor Serenus Churn, Senior, can do to keep from drowning in sadness.
"Right now we're busy making preparations and arrangements so I don't think it will be real to us quite yet," said Churn.
Courtney Singleton, a member of the custodial staff added, "It's an honor to be able to help."
Churn was Dr. Maya Angelou's pastor and friend for 30 years at Mt. Zion Baptist Church.
"She would be in this area, and Dr. Angelou, she would be demonstrative. If the message was good, she would wave her hand. I'm going to miss that encouragement, oh, will I miss it," Churn fondly recalled. "She was the kind of member who was very active when it comes to our benevolent work, in fact, she was a kind of undercover saint."
Pastor Churn said Dr. Angelou lived modestly; and that's how he has planned the public memorial.
"It'll be a time of celebration, a time of joy, a time of reflection, a time of remembrance of a life well-lived," Churn said.
Hundreds of people attended the memorial. Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines, and Dr. Angelou's grandson were among the speakers.
Dr. Angelou was a big fan of music and dance, and that was evident at the memorial service.
Retired musician Dr. Marion Thomas played the piano Angelou donated to the church.
"It's just an honor and a privilege to be able to do this," Thomas said. "To have an opportunity to do this again; Offer a tribute to her."
A few years ago, Thomas played at Angelou's brother's funeral in the same sanctuary; Now he's back to send her home.
"'Yes God Is Real', and 'Just A Closer Walk With Thee', are two of her favorite pieces," Thomas said.
"I hope she will be pleased. I hope she will be pleased," Churn added.
Family and friends told WFMY News 2 the celebratory mood of the service was exactly what Dr. Angelou would have wanted.
The family and church are also planning a private funeral, with dignitaries and friends, next Saturday in Winston-Salem, according to Churn.