A week after the shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, the church re-opened its doors. Although it must have been truly and unimaginably difficult for anyone to return, many did, knowing that it was exactly what God wanted them to do. As the members began to enter their beloved church, they were left stunned by the one thing they saw inside.
The First Baptist Church re-opened its doors after more than two dozen people were killed during the deadliest shooting in the history of the State of Texas. Associate Pastor Mark Collins has relayed that people across America have come to the shooting site to pray.
Although the doors are open to the public, Collins admits that they opened for their members seeking to heal. However, when members walked into the building yesterday for the first time since the tragic events unfolded, they were left stunned by what they saw inside.
The church was unrecognizable after the inside of the church had been transformed into a memorial. The broken windows and ceiling tiles had been replaced and the bullet holes were filled. Unexpectedly, it didn’t even look like the same church anymore. In fact, “the vibrant church’s sandy stained pews, the carpet, and all equipment had been removed,” according to Fox News. “The walls, floor, and pulpit were painted white.”
Set-up across the room were twenty-six white chairs, all representing a victim, including one for the unborn baby of one of the victims who was pregnant. Each chair was placed exactly where each congregant was sitting when they were shot, with a red rose tied to each chair, and a pink rose for the unborn baby.
To help those who wanted to know who was sitting where, names or nicknames were painted in gold on each chair, as well. To set the mood of the memorial, a recording of scripture readings from a previous church service played as onlookers walked around the memorial in silence.
Pictures were posted online, where they immediately began to go viral.
Crossroads, today is a sad day. The church family of the Sutherland Springs Baptist Church opened their doors to the…
The memorial was a difficult decision to make, as many members have relayed that they never wanted to step foot into the place where their loved ones were killed. However, there were many others who needed to see the church, and this is how the church decided to pay their respects.
Pastor Collins says that the First Baptist Church “is still alive” and is encouraging people to give themselves to Christ. He says there’s hope, adding it’s only been seven days since the shooting and “already this community is back to worship, bound together by faith.”
— John C. Moritz (@JohnnieMo) November 12, 2017
Although the church doors were opened for the memorial, the congregation held its first Sunday service at a baseball field, setting up folding chairs under a large white tent. Pastor Frank Pomeroy provided a good sermon, wanting to ensure everyone who walked into the service “knows that those who died lived for their Lord and savior.” He said, “My best friends and my daughter,” before wiping his eyes and continuing, “I guarantee they are dancing with Jesus today.”
Although church members are still deciding what to do with the church permanently, it seems the memorial is a good fit for now. It may be heartbreaking for those who were present during the tragedy or for those who lost loved ones and friends, but it also provides them a sense of closure and a place to honor and remember their loved ones.
It’s a shame that a sick man decided to enter a House of God and unleash his violent wrath. There may be no answers to help us understand why something so horrible happened to good people, but there is comfort in knowing that these Christians do have each other as well as their brothers and sisters in Christ from around the world who pray for their continued healing.
The fellowship they were able to have this past weekend is important, especially during this time of tragedy. Leaning on one another as well as their faith will help them cope during a time most of us can’t even imagine.