LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Just one week after nearly half the church congregation was horrifically gunned down, First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, holds its first Sunday service.
26 lives were lost the morning of Nov. 5, when a gunman stormed the First Baptist Church and opened fire during service. The tiny community of Sutherland Springs still has a long battle moving forward, and Carey Baptist Association is here to help its sister congregation.
"We need a way to extend this long-term," said Director, Dr. Bruce L. Baker.
He says each church in the association, like Trinity Baptist, was asked to take up collections to go towards long-term recovery projects, including the fate of the current church building.
"They say they want to demolish it, make a prayer garden and build a new building. We want to help with those expenses," said Baker.
There has been a lot of discussion about the demolition. Pastor Frank Pomeroy, whose 14-year-old daughter was killed, told leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention that it would be too painful to continue using the building.
Right now, the church will serve as a memorial site.
"That pastor not only has to go to a funeral tomorrow for his own daughter, he has 25 others to do, and 20 members in the hospital that have been shot, so he and his wife are just there overwhelmed," said Baker.
So, part of the collection will go to them as well as mental health services that are often overlooked as needed in a recovery process.
"It's not just the church, but the entire community after a shooting like this is going to be significant," said Baker. "If we could put a team of healthcare professionals there for three or five years, it still wouldn't meet all of the need."
While all the levels of the Baptist organization are helping, up to the national level, Baker takes pride in the people of SWLA and their unwavering support in times of great need, disaster after disaster.
"In Texas, it's probably best to be sending money, maybe sending chaplains and being aware, but here in Vinton or in the Terrace after the flood, that you show up with rubber boots and a shovel ready to clean," said Baker.
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