First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs to be Demolished After Massacre

The pastor of the Texas church where a gunman killed 25 people says he plans on demolishing the building, a spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention said Thursday.

Frank Pomeroy told convention leaders that conducting services at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs would be too painful following Sunday’s massacre, convention spokesman Roger Oldham told USA TODAY.

“The pastor expressed his desire that perhaps the best way forward is to have the church demolished and replaced with a prayer garden,” Oldham said. But Oldham added that parishioners haven’t “had a chance to fully deal with the grief and then come together to make a decision.”

Viewings for some of the victims will be held this weekend. The convention, through the North American Mission Board, has offered to cover funeral expenses for all the victims.

Oldham said First Baptist had about 100 members before Devin Kelley’s rampage that wounded an additional 20 people in the small, white clapboard church. Pomeroy hopes to build another church on the property, Oldham said.

The president of the convention’s executive committee, Frank Page, was in Sutherland Springs for two days this week ministering to Pomeroy and his parishioners. The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention website list specific prayer requests for the church, along with links for financial donations.

The state has also offered financial assistance, and Gov. Greg Abbott pronounced Sunday a day of prayer. Pomeroy, whose 14-year-old daughter, Annabelle, was killed in the carnage, plans to hold a service Sunday at a local community center.

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SOURCE: USA Today, John Bacon