Lee Powell, senior pastor of CedarCreek Church, announced to his congregation that he has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
“Many of you are aware that over the past few months I have developed a tremor in my hand and I have been up-front in my sermons regarding this affliction,” he said in an email. “After a few more symptoms materialized, [my wife] Joi and I took my doctor’s advice to go to the Cleveland Clinic. The good news is we finally have a diagnosis for a series of symptoms, including my obvious tremor. Unfortunately the bad news is it is Parkinson’s'”
The founding pastor of what has grown into the largest church in northwest Ohio, Powell said his doctors will first treat a problem he’s been having with sleep deprivation, after which they will address the other aspects of Parkinson’s.
According to webmd.com, “Parkinson’s disease affects the nerve cells in the brain that produce dopamine. Parkinson’s disease symptoms include muscle rigidity, tremors, and changes in speech and gait. After diagnosis, treatments can help relieve symptoms, but there is no cure.”
Symptoms can often be effectively controlled for years with medication, the medical website said.
Among the high-profile people with Parkinson’s are Billy Graham, Pope John Paul II, Linda Ronstadt, Janet Reno, Johnny Cash and Michael J. Fox.
Powell expressed optimism in his email. “Most people do respond well with the treatment and research is advancing with this disease,” he said. “Joi and I both feel this is not a death sentence and are thoroughly educating ourselves. At this time we don’t have all the answers, so please give us a week or two as we continue to learn about this new challenge.”
He said he plans to continue preaching and will remain active as CedarCreek’s senior pastor, using video teachings as a backup plan when his schedule makes it necessary. He plans to attend monthly support meetings in Cleveland with others who have Parkinson’s.
Saying that “God knows what he is doing and God is good,” Powell said a silver lining of the diagnosis is that he and his wife have an opportunity “to share the gospel with many people whom we would otherwise never cross paths with. … Joi and I appreciate all your love and support. We covet your prayers during this time and we’ll keep you updated.”
The nondenominational CedarCreek Church held its first service at the French Quarter hotel in Perrysburg in October, 1995 with 180 people in attendance. It now has weekly attendance of more than 10,000 at four campuses — Perrysburg, West Toledo, Whitehouse and South Toledo — and also has an “internet campus.”