Frank Pomeroy, pastor of First Baptist Church, Sutherland Springs, choked back tears as he and his wife, Sherri, discussed the tragedy, in which they lost their teenage daughter, Annabelle, the Washington Post reported. TV screen capture
'I don’t understand, but I know my God does,' says pastor of Texas church following mass shooting
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas – The pastor and wife of the small Texas Baptist church met with the media Monday, Nov. 6, one day after the largest mass shooting
in the state’s history that claimed 26 of the church’s congregation.
Frank Pomeroy, pastor of First Baptist Church, Sutherland Springs, choked back tears as he and his wife discussed the tragedy, in which he lost his teenage daughter, Annabelle, the Washington Post reported.
When asked how he makes sense of the tragedy, the pastor said, “I don’t understand, but I know my God does.”
Pomeroy, who was out of town with his wife, Sherri, when the shooting occurred, told reporters the church's tragedy will exalt Christ.
"Christ is the one who's going to be lifted up," Pomeroy told the media. "That's what I'm telling everybody. You lean into what you don't understand. You lean into the Lord ... Whatever life brings to you, lean on the Lord rather than your own understanding. I don't understand, but I know my God does. And that's where I'll leave that."
Southern Baptist leaders are ministering in the wake of what some have called the deadliest church shooting in U.S. history say they've witnessed "God at work" despite the 26 dead and some 20 others wounded at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
Local pastors and field personnel with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) began providing grief counseling within hours of the shooting at First Baptist's morning worship service Nov. 5. Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines and SBC Executive Committee President Frank S. Page plan to arrive in Sutherland Springs Nov. 7 to offer prayer and encouragement. SBTC executive director Jim Richards arrived Monday, Nov. 6.
The North American Mission Board, on behalf of the Southern Baptist Convention, has offered to cover funeral expenses for all shooting victims in coordination with the SBTC, according to the domestic mission entity.
Sherri Pomeroy expressed thanks for an "outpouring of love" by friends, community members and even strangers. She added that "as much tragedy as" Annabelle's death "entails for our family, we don't want to overshadow the other lives lost yesterday."
"We lost more than Belle yesterday," she said. "One thing that gives me a sliver of encouragement is the fact that Belle was surrounded yesterday by her church family that she loved fiercely, and vice versa. Our church was not comprised of members or parishioners. We were a very close family. We ate together, we laughed together, we cried together and worshiped together.
"Now most of our church family is gone, our building probably beyond repair and the few of us that are left behind lost tragically yesterday. … Please don't forget Sutherland Springs," Sherri Pomeroy said.
The shooting began at about 11:20 a.m. local time, when Devin Kelley, 26, allegedly fired a semiautomatic rifle at the outside of the church building before entering and methodically firing at worshipers as he paced through the room, The New York Times reported.
Local Wilson County Sherriff Joe Tackitt said "nearly everyone" in the room "had some type of injury," according to CNN. The dead ranged from an unborn baby in its mother's womb and an 18-month-old to a 77-year-old, The Times reported. At least eight of the dead were members of one family.
When Kelley exited the church, he reportedly exchanged gunfire with a bystander and was pursued in a high-speed car chase by the bystander and another local resident, according to media reports. The chase ended when Kelley crashed his car, where authorities later found him dead.
Kelley allegedly shot himself at some point, The Times reported, but authorities don't know if the self-inflicted wound caused his death. A "domestic situation" may have motivated the killing spree, according to media reports, and his ex-wife’s grandmother was among the dead.
This article was compiled from reporting by the various media reports and the Baptist Press.