Faith organizations focus on TX

As more details of Sunday's shooting emerge national organizations send staff, support to the community.

November 6, 2017

Happier days -- outside First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, TX at a 2015 festival.
Credit: FBC Facebook page

Faith organizations spent Monday holding or planning prayer services, counseling survivors and first responders, calling for new gun legislation and preparing churches near Sutherland Springs, TX, for an unexpected future.

On Sunday morning a gunman attacked First Baptist Church in that small town, killing 26 and wounding more than a dozen others. He later took his own life. According to law enforcement officials, the shooter had a history of domestic violence and some of his ex-in laws worshiped at the church.

It was the second fatal U.S. church shooting on Sunday and the third in six weeks. It was also the most deadly to strike a House of Worship in recent history.

Sutherland Springs is a small town about 40 miles east of San Antonio. The church's Facebook page includes photos of an active, ethnically diverse, youth ministry.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance sent the Rev. Jim Kirk, U.S. disaster associate and a volunteer member of its Rapid Response Team to Texas to meet with Presbyterian churches in the region.

The Salvation Army which had sent a mobile kitchen for first responders and spiritual care team to the community Sunday evening, said the team had returned on Monday.

Meanwhile denominational leaders called for changes in society.

Americans "must come to the firm determination that there is a fundamental problem in our society," said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the archbishop of Galveston-Houston."A Culture of Life cannot tolerate, and must prevent, senseless gun violence in all its forms," he said in a statement posted on the Archdiocese's Website.

The Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe, General Secretary of The United Methodist Board of Church and Society encouraged church members to take an active role in gun safety legislation. "To do nothing to combat the evils of gun violence is irresponsible and contradictory to Christ’s call to be peacemakers," she said.

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church was worshipping at a church in Aberdeen, Scotland, when word reached him of the Texas. According to the Episcopal News Service, during the service he offered a prayer "for those who have died, for those who are suffering, for those who are still healing from physical wounds, and the emotional, spiritual and mental scars."

Robert Schnase, Bishop of the Rio Texas Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church, said, "This was an outrageous, senseless, and tragic act. We pray God's blessings on families, friends, and the entire community. We pray for those who will face rebuilding their lives after such deep loss. We pray for those who were injured, that God's healing grace may be upon them."

Earlier Sunday morning, in another domestic violence-tinged incident, a couple was murdered by the estranged woman's husband in a church parking lot after attending an early morning Mass at St Alphonsus Church in Fresno, CA.

Six weeks ago, on Sept. 24, one person was killed and seven others wounded at a church in Antioch, TN.

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