On Sunday, the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, where a gunman shot 26 people dead, had its first service since the tragedy.
Pastor Frank Pomeroy, who lost his 14-year-old daughter, Annabelle, conducted an emotional service attended by hundreds of people, who filled the 500 seats in the church while others stood in the back. Usually, the church is only attended by a few dozen people, but that day, the number of people there exceeded the 600-person population of the town.
“I know everyone who lost their life that day, some of which were my best friends, and my daughter,” Pomeroy said. “And I guarantee without any shadow of a doubt they are dancing with Jesus today. God gets the glory.”
“We have the power to choose, and, rather than choose darkness, like that young man did that day, I say we choose life,” Pomeroy told the congregation.
Texas Sen. John Cornyn attended the services and was impressed with the pastor’s fortitude as well as that of the rest of the worshippers.
“I saw him standing there at the front of the church, comforting others,” Cornyn said. “It’s remarkable, but it’s a testament to their faith and their compassion for others during this very difficult time.”
On Sunday evening, the church opened its doors to all that were there, transforming itself into a memorial. The church was covered from floor to ceiling in white, with 25 red roses on 25 white chairs for each of the people killed. A single pink rose was left on a chair for the unborn child who was killed. In the background, a recording played the victims’ voices as they read scripture or prayed.
“I want everyone that walks in there to know that the people who died lived for their Lord and Savior, and would want them to live as well,” Pomeroy said.