On Nov. 5, First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, was going to read Psalm 100 during its Sunday service. It was never read as planned.
Tragically, the congregation never reached that part of the service. Instead, the small church lost half of its congregation when shooter Devin Kelley entered the church.
He killed 26 people, including an unborn baby. Pastor Frank Pomeroy and his wife lost their 14-year-old daughter Annabelle in the horrifying shooting.
Many members of the community had personal ties to the victims. The church itself and the grieving community may not ever be the same, but they are not without hope to move forward.
A memorial service was held on Nov. 8 for the victims of the shooting. Vice President Mike Pence was in attendance.
“We mourn with those who mourn and we grieve with those who grieve, but we do not grieve like those who have no hope. Our faith gives us hope,” Pence stated, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Part of that grieving process included deciding what to do about the Texas church building. It was decided that the building will no longer be a place to gather for worship.
It was reopened just one week after the mass shooting as a memorial site for the victims. The carpet and pews were removed, the walls and floor were painted, and ceiling tiles and windows were replaced.
A construction team of 30 people spent 72 hours to make sure the building looked nothing like a crime scene anymore. The fresh coat of white paint helped to transform the sanctuary into the memorial it is today.
Mark Collins, an associate pastor at First Baptist Church, told The Washington Post, “We don’t want to appear defeated. We’re back in business, and it’s God’s business.”
Twenty-six white chairs were each placed where the victims were found after the shooting. Their first names were painted on their respective chairs in gold.
Twenty-five red roses were pinned to the chairs. There was a single pink rose for Crystal Holcombe’s unborn baby.
Audio recordings of several of the victims’ voices can be heard playing in the memorial building. These recordings include prayers or scripture readings.
There is now a poster of Psalm 100 in the Texas church building behind a wooden cross that was erected at the altar. The poster acknowledged that though Psalm 100 was never heard on Nov. 5, it “will be heard by all” now.
It has remained undecided as to whether or not the plans to demolish the building will move forward. If the building does end up getting demolished, a permanent memorial would be built in its place.
According to Inside Edition, Pastor Pomeroy said, “I know everyone who gave their life that day…I guarantee they are dancing with Jesus today.”
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