An Alabama church is honoring the life of a former pastor who shot himself after his double life as a transgender woman was revealed to the public.
Days after the report exposing Mayor Fred “Bubba” Copeland’s double life as a transgender woman named “Brittni Blaire Summerlin,” news of his suicide rocked the city of Smiths Station, which Copeland was elected to lead in 2016.
Dr. David White, a member of First Baptist Church of Phoenix City, told DailyMail.com exclusively, “This is a church where all types of people are welcome.”
Worshipers were also seen leaving floral tributes to Copeland outside the building.
White led Sunday’s church service in place of the 62-year-old. His opening address expressed the church’s deep sense of grief and loss.
“Despite what is suggested in the media, the members of this church remain steadfast in their love and care for their pastor,” White said.
Affected worshipers left floral tributes at the base of a cross outside the First Baptist Church of Phoenix City, Alabama, on Sunday
Several bouquets and a wreath of flowers were left in memory of Fred L. “Bubba” Copeland days after he committed suicide
The mayor and pastor died by suicide on Friday after police were called to conduct a welfare check. During a chase, he shot himself in front of officers
The 62-year-old appeared to be leading a secret double life online, posting as a transgender woman called ‘Brittni Blaire Summerlin’ on platforms such as Reddit and Instagram
A service program obtained by DailyMail.com still lists Rev. FL “Bubba” Copeland as a staff member two days after his death.
Outside, believers lay flowers under a cross. The cross itself was decorated with a wreath of flowers and a small yellow bouquet.
“Thank you all for your prayers and expressions of sympathy and support,” the church wrote on Facebook a day before the service.
“First and foremost, we ask that you keep Pastor Bubba Copeland’s family in your prayers today and in the days ahead. We really appreciate your messages, comments and encouragement.”
Copeland died by suicide Friday evening after details of his alter ego were exposed by 1819 News, a far-right station that focuses on issues across the state.
The 62-year-old shot himself during a police chase after they were called for a welfare check.
The mayor of Smiths Station operated multiple social media accounts under the pseudonym “Brittini Blaire Summerlin” and posted regularly on Reddit, where he was active in communities such as “r/TransLater” and “r/PlusSizeFashion.”
He described himself as a ‘Transitioning Transgender Curvy Girl’.
Dr. David White, who led the Sunday service in Copeland’s place, said that “members of this church remain steadfast in their love and concern for their pastor.”
In a service program obtained by MailOnline, Copeland’s name is still listed under ‘Church staff’
White described the church as a place “where all kinds of people are welcome.”
On Facebook, the church thanked people for their expressions of sympathy and encouraged them to keep Copeland’s family in their prayers
An account using the pseudonym also uploaded erotic stories. In a, the narrator becomes obsessed with a real local entrepreneur, whom he kills to assume her identity.
1819 News spoke with the real woman, who was “distraught.” She said she was unaware of the story’s existence but was close to the family.
Copeland begged the outlet not to release information about his online persona.
He admitted to running the accounts, claiming it was a means of “relieving stress” and describing the messages as “fantasy.”
“Only my wife knows about it,” Copeland said.
‘It’s a hobby I do to relieve stress. I’m under a lot of stress and I’m not going to make a medical transition. It’s just a bit of a character that I play.’
He initially denied having any knowledge of the accounts, but when made aware of the social media evidence, he quickly admitted to running the page.
“What I do in my private life has nothing to do with what I do in my sacred life,” the pastor added.
‘Does this have consequences for me as mayor, that I sometimes wear a dress or sometimes put on make-up? Does that have anything to do with the fact that I am mayor or pastor?’
After the interview, Copeland deleted the accounts.
A conservative news outlet posted screenshots of Copeland’s Reddit account, where he used the handle “brittniblaire” and described himself as “A Transitioning Transgender Curvy Girl.”
The father-of-three posted photos in lingerie, heavily made up, from the home he shared with his wife
Copeland was praised by then-President Trump for his response to a tornado in 2019 and used the above photo in his re-election campaign
‘I try to be as happy as possible!’ read a now deleted comment. “Life as a woman is much better than my old male self.”
Copeland gained national attention in 2019 when then-President Donald Trump praised his response to a series of tornadoes.
The mayor was photographed with Trump and used the photo to campaign for re-election the following year.
During his final sermon on Wednesday, Copeland apologized to the congregation.
“Yes, I took pictures with my wife in the privacy of our home in an attempt at humor because I know I’m not a good-looking man or a beautiful woman either,” Copeland said.
In a statement Thursday, leaders of the Alabama Baptist State Convention and the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions addressed Copeland’s alleged “unbiblical” behavior.
“We pray for the leaders of the church family as they attempt to determine the truth about these allegations,” the statement said.
‘As the people of God, we also pray for the pastor and his family. We are consulting with the leadership of the Russell Baptist Association as they seek to assist the First Baptist family in this critical time of need.”
The 62-year-old was elected mayor of Smiths Station in 2016 and served in the role until his death.
It was discovered that Copeland had written erotic fiction in which he wrote about murdering a real local businesswoman and assuming her identity
Phoenix City pastor apologized in a statement to his congregation just days before his death for “any embarrassment” caused by his behavior
Phenix City School Superintendent Larry DiChiara, who said he was a longtime friend of Copeland’s, described himself as “angry” and “heartbroken” in a Facebook post.
“I have witnessed in recent days a good man publicly ridiculed and crucified… to the point that today he committed suicide,” DiChiara wrote.
“I just want to ask you people who found it humorous to publicly ridicule him, ‘Are you happy now?’ What crime did he commit?
“Some of you make me sick. I hope you are proud,” he added.
“To our brother, FL Bubba Copeland, may God bless your soul and forgive those who took pleasure in your suffering. They should all be ashamed!’