Godair recalls pastor whose impact spread beyond Cornerstone Church – Salisbury Post
SALISBURY – Bill Godair, a pastor whose impact extended far beyond the walls of his church on Webb Road, died Tuesday after a period of ill health. He was 63 years old.
Godair was best known for building a diverse church that included an event center and a childcare business under his auspices. He is also described by those who knew him as an advocate for the community, a planner who is always forward-looking and generous to those affiliated with Cornerstone Church, as well as others who were not.
In 2010, he received the Elizabeth Duncan Koontz Humanitarian Award.
At a Celebration of Life ceremony Saturday at Cornerstone Church, Executive Pastor Brandon Spiker told attendees and Godair’s widow Tina that it was time to “take up the torch, take up the legacy, to reclaim the vision and carry on for generations to come. “
Godair was born February 26, 1958 to Dalton and Shirley Godair and raised in St. Louis. Preaching since the age of 20, he moved to the Salisbury area in 1986 with his wife Karen and children. He was disheartened when he preached his first essay message in the Salisbury area to a congregation of seven, saying, âPack your bags, we’re going home.
But he still had a sermon to preach here.
âThat night on the service, I just felt obligated by God that this was where I was supposed to be,â Godair told The Post in a 1993 article.
About three days later, the church elected him pastor.
In 1993 Godair led the fastest growing church in the denomination, then called Cornerstone United Pentecostal Church. It has gone from just seven members to a record attendance of 373 and has drawn photographers from National Headquarters to film the services.
Three years later, Cornerstone moved to its current location off of Webb Road. The facility and the congregation have grown considerably since then.
Today Widow Tina, who married Godair in 1999, says her late husband was called to the Salisbury area to tear down the walls of traditional religion, racism and poverty. Due to Godair’s passing, Tina said the community has lost someone who is good-hearted and loyal to their people and community. He was life changing with a bold and punchy voice, she said.
She said his “unlimited compassion for people” was one of the reasons she fell in love with him. Tina said he was also a visionary, who could examine a property and imagine what the finished product would look like.
âEven when it didn’t make sense to me, it made sense to him. And it always worked, âTina said.
More recently, Godair and Cornerstone envisioned a mixed-use complex called “The Grove” in an area adjacent to Interstate 85 and NC 152 in the China Grove area. Prior to the selection of a site on North Main Street in Salisbury, Cornerstone Church was among the options considered by Rowan County Commissioners for the Rowan-Salisbury Schools Central Office.
Liliana Spears said she was first drawn to Godair and Cornerstone Church because of her interest in hosting Hispanic community events and finding other ways to collaborate. He didn’t ask people if they attended Cornerstone Church before offering to help. Eventually, she joined the church, saying his servant leadership was an example to her and made him feel at home in Cornerstone.
âI really believe we have lost a great man,â she said.
Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes said he and his family felt at home in Cornerstone after moving to Salisbury and visiting several churches. Stokes said Godair – called Bishop Godair by church members – was a servant of the community and had a heart for the people.
âThey were warm and welcoming,â Stokes said. âBecause I was new to Salisbury, I don’t know if they exactly knew I was the ‘new’ police chief when we started attending. Anyway, they didn’t say anything and opened their arms and their church to us.
Godair in 2013 was arrested by police for speeding and claimed to have been mistreated at a press conference with the Salisbury-Rowan NAACP afterwards. Stokes said Godair “forgave and forgot” the incident and became a founding member of the chief’s advisory board.
During protests at the Confederate ‘Fame’ monument in 2020, Godair volunteered with a group of pastors to provide whatever help was needed. Stokes said he believed the presence of the pastors in the crowd helped calm those in attendance. The following night, when protests escalated and officers in riot gear fired tear gas, pastors were not present.
In a message posted online last week, Salisbury-Rowan NAACP President Gemale Black said the organization was deeply saddened by Godair’s death.
âHis life and legacy will continue to transcend and impact the lives of the residents of Rowan County,â said Black. âWe ask you to find comfort and peace in the word of God. “
Stokes said Godair has a good sense of humor which he uses to make people feel at home and that he strives to show people he appreciates them even in his final months of life. .
âHis passing leaves a hole in my heart,â Stokes said.
Besides widow Tina, Godair is survived by his mother, Shirley; siblings Mike, Debbie and Tony; the children Jonathan, Kristen, Bethany and Joshua; grandchildren, a great-granddaughter and a host of nieces and nephews.