Texas church community begins to heal with first funerals and Sunday service

(CNNNearly a week after a gunman unleashed several minutes of hell on a congregation of Texas churchgoers, the long journey toward healing has begun.

The first funerals for the victims of the massacre at First Baptist Church will be held this weekend, and the community will come together for its first Sunday service since Sutherland Springs was changed forever.

The church, now pock-marked with hundreds of bullets, blood stains and shattered windows, has been rendered uninhabitable. Sunday's service, organized by pastors from around the area, will be held at the community center next door. Frank Pomeroy, the pastor of First Baptist Church who lost his 14-year-old daughter in the shooting, is scheduled to speak.

In simpler times, the white walls of the church vibrated with hymns, prayers and sermons praising Christ.

Several dozen people, many of them casually dressed in jeans and T-shirts, sat in the caramel brown pews of its unpretentious worship hall; its altar little more than a carpeted stage.

Now, Pastor Pomeroy wants to tear down the church and possibly build a memorial in its place for the more than 20 people who died there.

"This was just the pastor discussing what he thinks [the] best case scenario would be," Roger Oldham, spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention, told CNN. "But the church has to make the decision together to tear down the church.

"Everything is in such grief mode right now in this church [that] these decisions will have to unfold as they come for the people there. It will be in their own timeline."

Charlene Uhl lost her 16-year-old daughter, Haley Krueger, who had loved going to the church and attended youth group there twice a week.

"I think the church should be held elsewhere," Uhl told Spectrum News, a CNN affiliate. "Still have the church, but this particular one be gone."

In previous mass shootings, decisions on what to do with the site have varied.

Sandy Hook Elementary School in rural Connecticut where 20 children and six staff were killed, was razed to make way for a new school that opened in 2016. The Pulse in Orlando, in which 49 people were killed at the LGBT nightclub, is to be turned into a memorial, the owner had said.

The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston re-opened its venerable structure days after nine people were killed in a racially motivated shooting.

 

Read more on CNN.com


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