Reality show fills church where pastor was shot & killed

Published: May. 13, 2014 at 3:25 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 12, 2014 at 3:25 AM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Since the shooting death of the their pastor, Tabernacle of Praise has been no stranger to media. Monday night it was cameras from the reality show "Preachers of L.A."

Many of the people who showed up were there for the first time since Pastor Ronald Harris was shot and killed in the pulpit by former church member Woodrow Karey. Church member Satyrique Johnwell witnessed the shooting.

"It was horrifying. It was tragic and terrible. It hurt my heart," said Johnwell.

Bishop Noel Jones from the "Preachers of L.A." presided over the revival service. His presence filled the church that is now struggling. With allegations of an affair between Pastor Harris and the suspect's wife, and fear of what could happen again - church attendance has dwindled. Johnwell hopes Monday night's turnout is a sign that more people will return.

"They won't be afraid to come if Noel Jones came all the way from L.A. They're right here in Lake Charles. I believe we will get more members and old members will come back," said Johnwell.

Other Lake Area pastors were also there in support of Pastor Harris's widow Frances, who now leads the church.

"We believe by the grace of God that they are really going to make it and we came to have a good time in the Lord," said Pastor Michael Washington.

"We are just wanting to do what Jesus did and we just want to help everybody and let everybody know that regardless of everything ... We are praying for everybody," said Pastor Ruby Terry, Fountain of Life Church of God in Christ.

As they try to heal, their faith is strong. As they worship together, they believe the church can survive.

"With the help of the Lord they can. Also with a lot of prayers and support from the community and just everybody coming together and knowing that it could have happened anywhere and with any church," said Pastor Tracy Washington.

Karey is charged with manslaughter, his trial is set for June 30th.

The "Preachers of L.A." airs on the Oxygen Network. The show's producer said the episode featuring Tabernacle of Praise will air some time in the fall during the show's second season.

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