Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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June 3, 2012

Funeral service held for Pastor Mack Randall Wolford

MATOAKA — At a small church on Route 10 near Matoaka, but closer to Giatto, there was a home-going ceremony Saturday morning for Pastor Mack Randall Wolford, pastor of the Apostolic House of the Lord Jesus in Matoaka.

The service lasted a little more than an hour. About 50 people attended, but a few stood outside. Among the outsiders were at least two journalist.

Pastor Wolford was an elder in a church that ties its faith to the Biblical Book of Mark, Chapter 16, Verse 18: “They shall take up serpents and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover.” He was open to inquiries about his faith and welcomed journalists to visit him during services when he handled poisonous snakes. His widow was polite prior to the service, but kindly requested that no journalists view or photograph the service.

“This is private,” she said, adding that she didn’t want any distractions.

“Last Saturday, we celebrated a homecoming with Brother Randy,” one of the pastors who participated in Wolford’s funeral service said. “Today, we are celebrating a home-going.”

One of the pastors commented as to how the media had distorted the circumstances of Wolford’s death, but expressed thanks for the well-wishes posted on Facebook.

A rattlesnake bit Wolford on the thigh during a service at Panther State Park on May 27. He was transported in a private vehicle from Panther to the Brushfork area, where paramedics with the Bluefield Rescue Squad were called. The Squad transported him to Bluefield Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead on arrival, according to his complete obituary.

The pastors at the service spoke about Wolford’s friendly ways and his willingness to encourage others to explore their faith. “If you said you believed, he would encourage you to pick up the serpent,” one pastor said.

At times, the service became quite lively as musicians accompanied the pastors on electric guitar and organ. “I feel good right now,” one pastor said. “He lived by the word of God. He’s right with God.

“I can’t preach Brother Randy’s funeral,” the same pastor said. “He’s already preached his service with his life,” he said. The pastor became emotional and said: “He was a true friend.”

There was an extended altar call at the end of the service before the funeral concluded and the funeral procession traveled to Phelps, Ky., for his burial. One of the pastors remarked about how similar the service on Saturday was to the Aug. 31, 1983 service, of Wolford’s father’s service. Mack Ray Wolford died about 8 hours after being bit by a yellow rattlesnake during a service. The elder Mack Wolford was 38, and was pronounced dead on arrival at the Stevens Clinic in Welch. He, too, was buried in the family cemetery in Phelps.

The funeral procession passed through Matoaka and Montcalm before leaving Mercer County on the way to the cemetery.

— Contact Bill Archer at


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