(File Photo)

FOREST HILL, TEXAS – Parishioners at a megachurch in North Texas are bracing themselves for their first weekend services without their beloved pastor who was bludgeoned to death inside his own church.

It’s been a traumatic few days for the congregation as they come to terms with the brutal murder of Rev. Danny Kirk, who was beaten to death inside his Greater Sweethome Missionary Baptist Church, Forrest Hill, Texas. Kirk, 53, died at the scene.

His attacker, Derrick Birdow, 33, rammed his car into the church and attacked Kirk with an electric guitar on Monday morning. Police used a stun gun to subdue Birdow, who was later found unresponsive in a patrol car and pronounced dead at a hospital.

Throughout the week, church members and the community have held vigils and candlelight services outside the church to pay tribute to the slain pastor. Some have been so overcome by grief they have needed medical attention.

“The whole church is devastated,” church member Shirley Robinson said in an interview with NBC 5’s Dallas-Fort Worth News service. “The whole church is destroyed. This is so senseless and so uncalled for. I don’t know God’s plan for this. It just doesn’t make any sense to me to take pastor Kirk from us at this time.”

Since Monday, relatives of Birdow have told news outlets that they had becoming increasingly worried by his bizarre behavior. His wife, Shanellia Harris Birdow, who is a member of Sweethome, said her husband was showing signs of “mental illness” and needed treatment in the days leading up to the attack.

Court records show Birdow had a string of past convictions. His wife also admitted they were experiencing marital problems. It’s also been reported that a church member said pastor Kirk was providing marriage counseling to Birdow and his wife.

Kirk’s funeral is set for Saturday at Great Commission Baptist Church in nearby Fort Worth. The pastor is survived by his wife and a son.

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