On Sunday, November 5, 2017, a gunman entered First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas and opened fire. In the end, the assault left 26 members of the church dead and 20 more injured. It is the worst mass shooting in Texas history.
Remembering the tragedy
The pastor of the church, Frank Pomeroy, was out of town that fateful Sunday morning. His 14-year-old daughter was not, and she died in the shooting. Now, Pastor Pomeroy wants to set up a memorial for his church, including his young daughter.
According to ABC News, it is Pomeroy’s wish to see the church building demolished, as continued use of the building would be too traumatic for the survivors. In its place, the pastor would like a memorial garden set up in honor of the victims. This would serve as a place of healing for the church, as well as a marker for the community.
Southern Baptists support the church
First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs is a part of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the world. Pastor Pomeroy and his church met with the SBC President, Steve Gaines and the CEO of the Executive Committee for the SBC, Frank Page. It was at this meeting that the pastor first expressed his wish to establish the garden memorial.
Ultimately, the decision about the building’s future is not up to Pomeroy or the SBC. In congregational churches such as First Baptist Sutherland Springs, this decision is in the hands of the membership. However, it is believed that the pastor’s idea has met with approval from the church.
A future for Sutherland Springs
Though the existing building is to be torn down under the pastor’s proposed plan, this does not mean an end to First Baptist Church. His full proposal includes building a new place of worship on the immediately adjoining land. The congregation has determined to not let this tragic day be the end of their church.