Mass shooting at Baptist church
Baptists have been responding to the mass shooting at First Baptist Church in Texas, which took place during morning worship on Sunday and left 26 people dead and a further 20 injured
Among the dead was Annabelle, the 14 year old daughter of pastor Frank Pomeroy and wife Sherri. He told reporters the church's tragedy will exalt Christ.
'Christ is the one who's going to be lifted up. That's what I'm telling everybody. You lean into what you don't understand. You lean into the Lord ... Whatever life brings to you, lean on the Lord rather than your own understanding. I don't understand, but I know my God does. And that's where I'll leave that.'
Sherri added that 'as much tragedy as Annabelle's death entails for our family, we don't want to overshadow the other lives lost yesterday.'
She continued, 'Now most of our church family is gone, our building probably beyond repair and the few of us that are left behind lost tragically yesterday. … Please don't forget Sutherland Springs.'
Baptist Press reported that local pastors and field personnel with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) began providing grief counselling within hours of the shooting.
Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines and SBC Executive Committee President Frank S. Page arrived in Sutherland Springs on Tuesday to offer prayer and encouragement.
On behalf of the SBC, the North American Mission Board has offered to cover funeral expenses for all shooting victims in coordination with the SBTC.
Mr Gaines, pastor of Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tennessee, told Baptist Press SBC leaders want to help First Baptist however they can.
‘Yesterday as we prayed at Bellevue for the families of those slain and also the others who were wounded at First Baptist Church, Sutherland Springs, I sensed the need to go there and try to minister to the pastor and his wife and their devastated congregation. I discussed it with Frank Page and Jim Richards, and we all agreed to go and help any way we possibly can.
‘Our Southern Baptist family grieves with this beloved church and the community it serves. Our prayers are ascending steadily to God's throne of grace. May God bring healing and hope to these that are hurting.’
First Baptist Church is affiliated with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, which has shared specific prayer requests:
Pray for the children in the community. Friends and relatives were killed. Pray for the counseling process with the children and families.
Pray for the local pastors as they shepherd not only their own people, but also others throughout the community.
Pray for Pastor Frank Pomeroy and his family. Ask God for healing of damaged emotions and grace to move forward.
Pray for the affected families as they lay to rest their loved ones and navigate this tragedy in their own lives and future.
Pray their faith to not fail in this horrible season of grief.
Ask God to give our leaders greater insight and receptivity to guard against such future acts. Ask God to bring protection to our gatherings that this evil be restrained.
In the UK a prayer image posted on the Baptists Together Facebook page was shared more than 200 times (including by General Secretary Lynn Green), making it one of our Union's most widely shared posts. Tony Peck, General Seceretary of the European Baptist Federation, also posted, saying 'Our hearts and prayers go out to our Baptist brothers and sisters and all others affected by this shooting in Texas.'
Lynn also wrote to Jim Richards, who leads the SBTC, assuring him of the prayers of British Baptists. 'We are standing in prayer with the church and community at Sutherland Springs and asking that the Lord will be your rock, comfort and hope in the midst of such pain and grief.'