Southern Baptist Convention Offers to Cover Funeral Expenses for All 26 Church Shooting Victims

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST AND FOX NEWS)

 

Southern Baptist Convention Offers to Cover Funeral Expenses for All 26 Church Shooting Victims

(PHOTOS: FAMILY PHOTOS VIA NBC NEWS)Eighteen of the 26 victims who were fatally shot by Devin Kelley at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, on November 5, 2017. They are (1st row L-R) Bryan Holcombe, Karla Holcombe, Crystal Holcombe, Brook Ward, Marc Daniel “Danny” Holcombe, Richard Rodriguez; (2nd row L-R) Annabelle Pomeroy, Greg Hill, Joann Ward, Emily Garza, Tara McNulty and Shani Corrigan; (3rd row L-R) Emily Hill, Haley Krueger, Noah Holcombe, Sara Johnson, Dennis and Megan Hill.

The North American Mission Board, the domestic missions agency of the Southern Baptist Convention, has offered to cover the funeral expenses for the families of the 26 people killed inside the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, at the hands of Devin Kelley on Sunday.

The NAMB confirmed the offer in a Baptist Press report on Monday.

SBC President Steve Gaines also confirmed on Twitter Tuesday that he, along with SBC Executive Committee President Frank S. Page, visited with Sutherland Spring’s Pastor Frank Pomeroy and his wife, Sherri, who lost their daughter, Annabelle, in the massacre.

“Just spent a few hours with @RichardsJim@frankpagesbc with Pastor Frank Pomeroy and his wife, Sherri, here in Sutherland Springs. Godly people,” Gaines said.

As the tragedy unfolded on Sunday, Gaines, who leads Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, said his congregation felt led to pray for the Sutherland Springs church and he felt a need to help in their time of grief.

“Yesterday as we prayed at Bellevue for the families of those slain and also the others who were wounded at First Baptist Church, Sutherland Springs, I sensed the need to go there and try to minister to the pastor and his wife and their devastated congregation,” Gaines said.

(PHOTO: REUTERS/JONATHAN BACHMAN)A woman places flowers at a memorial in memory of the victims killed in the shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, November 7, 2017.

“I discussed it with Frank Page and Jim Richards, and we all agreed to go and help any way we possibly can. Our Southern Baptist family grieves with this beloved church and the community it serves. Our prayers are ascending steadily to God’s throne of grace. May God bring healing and hope to those that are hurting,” he said.

As the small congregation worshiped at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs on Sunday, Kelley, 26, began firing his Ruger AR-556 rifle inside the building shortly after the 11 a.m. service began.

Within minutes, 26 people were dead and at least 20 others were left with serious injuries The New York Times reported. At least eight members of one family including a pregnant mother were killed. Nearly half of the deceased are children.

Police say Kelley unleashed about 450 rounds of ammunition on the helpless congregation and survivors say the deranged shooter who later killed himself expressed an intention to execute the entire congregation.

Roseanne Solis, one of the survivors of the church massacre, told KSAT 12 that the congregation was singing a new song when Kelley interrupted the praise with gunfire and declared that everyone was going to die.

“I hear firecrackers popping. Ta-ta-ta,” she recalled before someone screamed at the church members to take cover.

“Everybody started screaming, yelling. Everyone got down, crawling under wherever they could hide,” Solis said. “It was so scary. He was shooting hard.”

She explained that she got shot in the left shoulder and watched as other church members started falling to the floor, bleeding and in shock.

Things got quiet briefly inside the church after the first barrage of bullets but quickly deteriorated again when Kelley told everyone they would die.

“I thought it was the police when he went inside because everyone got real quiet. Everyone was saying ‘Be quiet. It’s him. It’s him.'” Then he yelled out, ‘Everybody dies [expletive],’ and Kelley started shooting again.

David Brown, whose mother was sitting in the back pew of the church, told Fox 31, that Kelley went from pew to pew to exact his mission to kill everyone.

Solis’ husband, Joaquin Ramirez, who was also inside the church at the time of the attack, said even though the church members were urging each other to keep quiet as the gunman hunted for survivors the children couldn’t stop crying.

Kelley found them, he said, and shot them at point-blank range. About half of the 26 victims from the massacre are children.

Mike Pence on Critics Slamming Prayer After Church Shooting: ‘We Need to Cover Families in Prayer’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

 

Mike Pence on Critics Slamming Prayer After Church Shooting: ‘We Need to Cover Families in Prayer’

(PHOTO: REUTERS/MARY F. CALVERT)U. S. Vice President Mike Pence addresses Chamber of Commerce ”Invest in America!” summit in Washington U.S., on May 18, 2017.

Vice President Mike Pence has responded to critics who have questioned the usefulness of prayer following Sunday’s mass shooting at a church in Texas which left 26 people dead.

“Right now I truly believe that covering those families in prayers are making a difference in their lives, and it will continue to support those families and that community in the days ahead,” Pence told Fox News in an interview on Tuesday.

Online debate has unfurled across Twitter and other platforms in the wake of the massacre at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, with some suggesting that prayer does not work if it can’t protect Christians at church.

“I’m a believer. I believe in prayer and I know that at this moment of such heartbreak and loss in that community that what most Americans are most able to do is pray for those families,” Pence said.

The vice president added, however, that prayer takes “nothing away from our determination … to get to the bottom of what happened, to understand the why, to determine whether or not there were errors along the way.”

Authorities are investigating if and in what way existing laws and background checks were not properly applied to shooter Devin Kelley, who illegally purchased the guns he used in Sunday’s attack.

House Speaker Paul Ryan also told Fox News in a separate interview on Monday that he stands by his offers of prayer, even though he was specifically targeted for his tweets.

Former “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Stand By Me” actor Wil Wheaton lashed out and wrote in response to Ryan’s prayer tweet earlier this week: “The murdered victims were in a church. If prayers did anything, they’d still be alive, you worthless sack of [expletive].”

Wheaton later apologized and explained he wasn’t trying to attack people of faith, through prayer continues being criticized in debates online.

“It’s disappointing. It’s sad, and this is what you’ll get from the far secular left. People who do not have faith, don’t understand faith, I guess I’d have to say,” Ryan told Fox.

He added: “And it is the right thing to do, is to pray in moments like this because you know what? Prayer works.”

The House speaker blamed the “secular left” for much of the “polarization and disunity” in the country due to sentiments like that.

Prominent pastors, such as Greg Laurie of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside and Irvine, California, told The Christian Post on Monday that while it is hard to understand God’s role in tragedies like church shootings, prayer is far from ineffective.

“The Bible does not promise anyone a pain-free life. In fact, Jesus Himself said, ‘In this world, you will have tribulation’ (John 16:33). Here is what I do know: these people that were gathered for worship at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, believed in and loved Jesus Christ,” Laurie added.

He said that the victims are now in God’s presence, “where there is ‘fullness of joy’ and ‘pleasures forevermore’ (Psalm 16:11). All of their questions are answered; our questions will have to wait.”

Pastor Ronnie Floyd, president of National Day of Prayer and senior pastor at Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas, separately told CP:

“In this fallen world when the spirit of evil is raging, all things that happen are not good. Yet, our faith and hope remains in God alone. When we pray we are depending on God for strength; when we do not pray, we choose to depend upon ourselves which always lead to unbelief.”