It’s been less than a week since a gunman opened fire on a small church in the tiny town of Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing 26 congregants and injuring 20 more. The deep physical and emotional wounds are still fresh.
According to witnesses, 26-year-old Devin Kelley started his rampage by firing through the thin, wooden walls of the church, striking people who were singing inside. Then he moved down the center aisle of the sanctuary, assassinating church members methodically row by row, even targeting children as young as a year old with shots to the head and killing an unborn baby.
Judging from the number of spent 30-round magazines found at the scene, investigators believe Kelley may have fired as many as 450 bullets from his semi-automatic rifle. The attack lasted seven minutes according to a gruesome video recording of the church service that police have reviewed, the New York Times reports.
Eight of the victims belonged to the same family in the very close-knit church. With 45 churchgoers killed or injured in a church that has a membership of about 100, according to USA Today, the attack has been absolutely devastating.
"Our church was not comprised of members or parishioners. We were a very close family. Now, most of our church family is gone,” lamented the pastor’s wife, Sherri Pomeroy.
The loss, the agony, and the bullet holes pocked all over the sanctuary have led Pastor Frank Pomeroy to make another heartbreaking announcement. The beloved church building where the community of First Baptist Church met as a family will likely be demolished.
According to Southern Baptist Convention spokesman Roger Oldham, Pastor Frank told them he could not imagine holding another church service in that building ever again with all the pain and horror those four clapboard walls now encapsulate. Pastor Frank and Sherri lost their own 14-year-old daughter in the massacre.
Oldham explained, “The pastor expressed his desire that perhaps the best way forward is to have the church demolished and replaced with a prayer garden. But the church hasn't really had a chance to fully deal with the grief and then come together to make a decision.”
The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention set up a webpage for the Sutherland Springs Church, asking people to pray for the community and offering a way for people to give financial aid to the suffering church members and the cover the costs of rebuilding. Meanwhile, the remaining congregation will meet at the nearby — but much smaller — Sutherland Springs Community Building.
First Baptist Church appears to be the only church with its own building in the small town. But as Christians know, a church is far more than just its meeting house.
Please keep praying for the people of First Baptist Church and its surrounding community. In other news, martial artist Chuck Norris is explaining why his wife’s health has led him to end his film career.