When First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs kicked off their annual Vacation Bible School the week of June 3, it looked profoundly different from two years ago.
On Nov. 5, 2017, a gunman entered their sanctuary, opened fire, and took the lives of 26 people. Several of those who lost their lives were instrumental in the VBS ministry of the church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
“VBS takes up a large portion of our year, because we do VBS big,” said Sherri Pomeroy, wife of Sutherland Springs pastor Frank Pomeroy. “Everybody around here knows this church produces an amazing VBS event every year and all the kids want to go to it.”
Among those killed was the Pomeroys’ 14-year-old daughter Annabelle.
“VBS was her favorite event of the year,” Sherri said. “She loved having the DVD after VBS was over and being able to do the moves along with it. She loved playing with the other children and was excited about being a helper for the first time [the following summer].”
As the early months of 2018 rolled around, the leadership of Sutherland Springs had to make a tough but necessary — decision: They would once again host VBS, despite the painfully obvious voids.
“We didn’t want their work in the years past to be in vain,” Sherri said. “But it was tough. We had all new teachers — people who stepped up to stand in the gap. We knew we had to do it not only for the Lord, but to honor the memories of those who were gone.”
Jennifer Holcombe is one of the Sutherland Springs members who stepped up. She lost her husband, her 18-month-old daughter and several other family members in the attack.
“I knew we had to keep going and not stop doing these things to be able to heal,” Holcombe said. “Some of what we do is to keep it going for them. For me, if I could do it, I wasn’t going to say ‘no.’ I had to do it to keep myself going.”
Karla Holcombe, Jennifer’s mother-in-law — described by Sherri as the “creative genius” behind the VBS décor year after year — was among those lost during the 2017 attack.
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Source: Baptist Press