Used Cars For Sale In San Angelo Tx – Gunsmoke filled the church sanctuary when David Colbath crawled on his elbows under the bench, wounded and whispered, “I love you Jesus, I love you Morgan, I love you Olivia.” The San Antonio Express-News reports Gunny Macias, 54, stared at a teenage girl as they lay on the floor. He told him, “Shaky, I’m afraid.” He tells him they have to sing.
“Jesus loves me, this I know, because the Bible tells me so. Little children for him belong to them, they are weak, but he is strong.” Devin Kelley, husband of a rough parish, had just opened fire with assault rifles on worshipers who attended Sunday services at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, killing 26 people and wounding 20 others.
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The Holcombe family lost nine of them. Five couples died together. Some mothers die, protecting their children. A mother survived but lost her 1-year-old daughter.
Nearly a year has passed since November 5, 2017, filming in this city in southeast San Antonio, a rural place tethered by a small church.
The congregation, led by pastor Frank Pomeroy, 52, and his wife, Sherri, 49, have turned the sanctuary into a memorial while a larger church is being built next door.
The church has always been a unifying force here, attracting communities to Sunday services, weekly Bible studies, potlucks, summer camps for children and a calendar of regular events like the fall festival next week.
It’s in the city with one traffic light, two gas stations, a General Dollar store and a small museum. Children attend schools in nearby communities.
For parishioners here, God is everywhere. He is in the sky of South Texas that they reach with their hands every Sunday. He has thousands of letters and gifts from people all over the world who send prayers and condolences. He is in the flower at the victim’s grave.
The strength of their faith has raised survivors in their daily battles for physical and emotional recovery, and that has encouraged people’s desire to serve others. Romans 12:21 is often heard around the church today: “Do not be ruled by evil, but fight evil with good.”
“God has shown us how to fight evil: With love and attention for one another. And respect and respect life,” said Julie Workman, 55, who survived with minor injuries. His children, Kris and Kyle were with him that day. Kris, 35, praise leader and Rackspace Inc. employee, was paralyzed from the waist down.
First Baptist members wear Texas-shaped silver necklaces with the words “Sutherland Springs strong.” They have T-shirts with the words “God is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are destroyed in spirit.” In worship, they sing about “God’s endless and careless love.”
“If I don’t have my faith in Christ, I don’t know if I can pass it,” said Debbie Braden, who lost Keith, her husband of nearly 34 years. “But what he left behind was getting stronger.”
He and his 7-year-old grandson, Zoe, survived. Across the room from Macias, they also gently sang “Jesus loves me,” when Debbie’s husband died nearby.
The grieving process has been “slow for some, fast for others,” said Colbath, 56, owner of a fence company. He was shot eight times, on his right arm, leg and body, while he shouted the names of his two children.
People told me one time in March and April that ‘Everything is not fine, David.’ And I said, “I realized it.” “He said.” I realize it’s not good, it’s just perfect, but it’s the way. This is the road we headed so we did not ask to go down. But it is a way of healing, and the way of love. ”
Most of the surviving parishioners have returned to the church, many of them with shrapnel embedded in their bodies. Church attendance has at least doubled because some members have committed themselves to the church more fully than before, and new members have arrived with the aim of raising the spirit and reaching out.
“In the aftermath I thought ‘This will all be over soon. We will return to normal.’ But we are still dealing with the after effects. It’s like ‘When will it end?’ “Said Kyle Workman, 26, a H-E-B bakery worker who escaped from an unharmed church.
There will be “new normal”, said parishioners, but for now, nothing feels normal.
Kathleen Curnow, who lives across the street from the church, fears loud noise. He saw the balloon and feared that their voices would appear. He won when a truck hit a potholes in the road and avoided seeing the place in the yard, visible from the living room window, where Kelley’s SUV was parked when he killed his friends in the church.
“These are the next two steps, 19 steps back,” he said.
Sherri Pomeroy hated being at home in the afternoon. He will hear the creaking of the wheels and the sound of children when the school bus stops. His 14-year-old daughter, Annabelle, had to run out. Welcome their dog. Talk about the day.
Sherri and Frank were not in the church on the day of the shoot. Sherri is in Florida helping storm recovery efforts; Frank is in Oklahoma. Both of them have struggled with the guilt of the survivors.
“I don’t think I will be okay. I will never be the same. But I have to wake up every day, I have to get out of bed,” he said. “That’s not an option.”
Neil Johnson, whose parents Sara and Dennis Johnson were killed, still hasn’t stepped into the memorial.
He wasn’t sure if he would do it. He said the old church was “like a headstone.”
“Sadness is something you can’t explain,” he said, wearing his father’s used paint work wear. “I know they are in heaven, but it feels like some of them are still there.”
For Johnson and others in a devout community, Pomeroy’s sermon helped them survive.
“Fear imprisons us, where faith frees us,” Pomeroy said in a recent sermon in a modular building that functions as a temporary church.
“There is a point where we only exist,” he said. “But God wants us to live. We must focus on light.”
At a recent Sunday service, Frank Pomeroy spoke to one-eyed crowds.
One eye, because many wear eye patches. They also have many gold chains, earrings, bracelets on their wrists. A church member, Morgan Colbath, David’s son, has five or six nose rings hung on his chin. Not to mention plastic swords and hooks.
“Ahoy!” said Sarah Slavin, when she went down to the altar immediately after Pomeroy.
It is Pirate Day at First Baptist. No one has ever been detained here. And the November tragedy forced more congregations to participate in the event.
Part of the appeal of the church is the acceptance of differences and strangeness.
“If you think of all the different personalities, we shouldn’t work,” said Unitia “Nish” Harris, a member of the church whose daughter Morgan and two sons-in-law survived the shooting.
There is a bustling David Colbath, joking people do not need an altar to deliver sermons; Judy and Rod Green, calm and serious, who run the food pantry every Friday; and the brothers Colbey and Morgan Workman, who could be seen tripping over random or cracked objects at timely references to the television program “The Office.”
“This place is against all reasons. I was raised by a military boy, I have seen many people. You would think this would be a boring little city church,” Harris said. “But no. I hate to say we are a group of strange people, but we.”
Many congregations live on land inherited from generation to generation. They work in oil fields, have small businesses in La Vernia and Floresville or go to work in San Antonio.
“We often joke with Karla (Holcombe) that we have a real motley crew in Sutherland Springs, and we still say to this day ‘Sutherland Sprung,’ if something is broken,” said Sherri Pomeroy.
“We have unconventional pastors, builds, churches – there is nothing unique about the church. This is completely the opposite. Everything that you think you will see in the church is what you will not see in our church.”
Frank Pomeroy is a tattooed priest, Harley Davidson. He was a member of the Faith Riders, a group of motorcyclists, and he and Sherri made a long trip together. Frank also hunts, and has a large teddy bear in his office at home. Sherri Pomeroy sometimes appears in churches with shorts and flip-flops. Blue-collar workers make most congregations feel comfortable attending services with paint-stained clothes, oil-stained clothes, and work clothes.
“We are trying very hard to welcome everyone, wherever they are in their lives,” Sherri said.
The congregation will tell you that the church is a zone without judgment. Defects, difficulties and peculiarities are supported, understood and if necessary, prayed for. Prayer requests for people who need more than doubled after the shooting to include survivors and victims’ family members, and then tripled after the deadly shooting of Santa Fe Middle School in May left 10 students and staff dead.
Since November, the cult band, which was once a trio, has grown to more than a dozen members: choir parts, keyboards, drums, guitars, and sometimes a flute player.
Many church members have sought hidden gun licenses, and there is a security team made up of volunteer congregations.
When he went to First Baptist in February for the first time since the shooting, Macias, a Marine veteran, used a walker and was still connected to a tube for his damaged organs. Recovering from five gunshot wounds, Macias was embarrassed by his physical condition, and was nervous when he appeared.
But when he did, he never looked back.
“I feel all the shame and pain – all that just disappeared when I arrived at the church,” he said. “Melt.”
With his wife, he has attended almost every Sunday since then, including Pirate Day – a stick in one hand, a pirate hook in the other.
Dozens of purple balloons floated into the white-and-blue sky above Annabelle Pomeroy’s tomb.
“When you see a balloon, Annabelle remembers much higher than that,” Frank Pomeroy said at Springs Sutherland cemetery.
Frank wore a purple shirt for Sunday morning services, and Sherri wore a patterned purple dress. Some church members wear purple too – Annabelle’s favorite color.
It was October 21 and will be Annabelle’s 15th birthday. This marks the last of all the main “firsts” for Pomeroy – the first year of holidays and family events without their daughters. Annabelle’s birthday last year was also the last time Sherri saw it. He flew to Florida afterwards, and did not return until after the shooting.
Sherri tries to explain Annabelle’s absence to her grandchildren.
“He has a party in heaven with Karla and Lou. And you know they always hold the best parties,” Sherri said. “In heaven no one says silence. They can be as hard as they want.”
There is one last balloon that must be released Sherri. It’s big and clear and read “Happy Birthday.” He held it near Annabelle’s grave, his tears adorning the shiny surface.
“It hurts he’s not here,” Frank Pomeroy quietly told his son. “But one day we’ll see it again.”
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