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 town of Smiths Station, which Copeland was elected to lead in 2016.
Speaking exclusively to DailyMail.com, Dr. David White, a member of the First Baptist Church of Phenix City, said: ‘This is a church where all types of people are welcome.’
Worshippers 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 remarks expressed the church’s profound sense of sadness and loss.
‘Despite what has been implied in the media, members of this church remain steadfast with love and concern for their pastor,’ White said.
Stricken worshippers left floral tributes at the foot of a cross in front of the First Baptist Church of Phenix City, Alabama on Sunday
Several bouquets and a floral wreath were left in memory of Fred L. ‘Bubba’ Copeland, days after he took his own life
The mayor and pastor died by suicide Friday after police were called to perform a welfare check. He shot himself in front of officers during a pursuit
The 62-year-old was found to live a secret double life online, posting as a transgender woman named ‘Brittni Blaire Summerlin’ on platforms like Reddit and Instagram
A service program obtained by DailyMail.com still names Rev. F. L. ‘Bubba’ Copeland as a member of staff, two days after his death.
Outside, worshippers lay flowers beneath a cross. The cross itself was adorned with a floral wreath and small yellow bouquet.
‘Thank you all for your prayers and expressions of sympathy and support,’ the church wrote on Facebook one 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 greatly 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 outlet focusing on issues across the state.
The 62-year-old shot himself during a pursuit by police after they were called to conduct a welfare check.
The Smiths Station mayor operated multiple social media accounts under the pseudonym ‘Brittini Blaire Summerlin’ and posted frequently on Reddit, where he was active in communities including ‘r/TransLater’ and ‘r/PlusSizeFashion.’
He described himself as a ‘Transitioning Transgender Curvy Girl.’
Dr. David White, who led Sunday’s service in place of Copeland, said ‘members of this church remain steadfast with love and concern for their pastor’
Inside a service program obtained by MailOnline, Copeland’s name is still listed under ‘Church Staff’
White described the church as a place ‘where all types 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 one, the narrator becomes obsessed with a real-life local business owner, who he murders 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 with the family.
Copeland begged the outlet not to release information relating to his online persona.
He admitted that he operated the accounts, claiming it was a means of ‘getting rid of stress’ and describing the posts as ‘fantasy.’
‘Just my wife knows about it,’ Copeland said.
‘It’s a hobby I do to relieve stress. I have a lot of stress, and I’m not medically transitioning. It’s just a bit of a character I’m playing.’
He initially denied having any knowledge of the accounts, but when he was made aware of the social media evidence, he quickly admitted to running the page.
‘What I do in private life has nothing to do with what I do in my holy life,’ the pastor added.
‘Does this have any effect on me being mayor, that I sometimes put on a dress or sometimes put on makeup? Does that have anything to do whatsoever with me being mayor or being a 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 inside 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 reelection campaign
‘I try to be as happy as possible!’ read a now-deleted comment. ‘Life is way better as a female then my old male self.’
Copeland gained national attention in 2019 when then-President Donald Trump praised his response to a string of tornados.
The mayor was photographed with Trump and used the picture to campaign for re-election the following year.
During his last sermon on Wednesday, Copeland apologized to the congregation.
‘Yes, I have taken pictures with my wife in the privacy of our home in an attempt at humor because I know I’m not a handsome man or a beautiful woman either,’ Copeland said.
In a statement Thursday, leaders of the Alabama Baptist State Convention and Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions addressed Copeland’s alleged ‘unbiblical’ behavior.
‘We are praying for the leaders of the church family as they seek to determine the truth concerning these accusations,’ the statement read.
‘As the people of God, we pray for the pastor and his family as well. We are in consultation with the Russell Baptist Association’s leadership as they endeavor to assist the First Baptist family during this critical time of need.’
The 62-year-old was elected mayor of Smiths Station in 2016 and occupied the role up to the time of his death
Copeland was discovered to have written erotic fiction in which he wrote about killing a real local businesswoman and assuming her identity
The Phenix City pastor apologized for ‘any embarrassment’ caused by his behavior in a statement to his congregation days before his death
Phenix City School Superintendent Larry DiChiara, who said he was an old friend of Copeland, described himself as ‘angry’ and ‘heartbroken’ in a Facebook post.
‘I witnessed a good man be publicly ridiculed and crucified over the last few days…to the point that he just took his own life today,’ DiChiara wrote.
‘I just want to ask you people who thought it humorous to publicly ridicule him, “Are you happy now?” What crime did he commit?
‘Some of you people make me sick. I hope you are proud,’ he added.
‘For our brother, F.L. Bubba Copeland, May God bless your soul and forgive those who took pleasure in your suffering. They should all be ashamed!’