An anonymous donor has come forward with an offer to provide the funds for a new church for the First Baptist Church congregation in Sutherland Springs, Texas, Religion News Service reports.
CBS News reported Thursday that the original church, in which 26 people were killed and 20 were injured in a mass shooting on Sunday, was set to be destroyed after Pastor Frank Pomeroy told the Southern Baptist Convention the building was “too stark of a reminder” of what happened.
Pomeroy lost his 14-year-old daughter in the shooting.
“They did say, ‘We can’t go back in there,’” Frank Page, chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention, said of his conversations with members of First Baptist, a congregation of about 100 located 30 miles from San Antonio.
“It’s going to be a reminder of the horrific violence against innocent people.”
“The pastor expressed his desire that perhaps the best way forward is to have the church demolished and replaced with a prayer garden,” Southern Baptist Convention spokesman Frank Oldham said, according to USA Today.
He also added, however, that congregants “had a chance to fully deal with the grief and then come together to make a decision.”
“There should still be church but not here,” said Charlene Uhl, whose 16-year-old daughter died in the attack.
“Who would want to go back in there?” said Jeannie Brown, a former resident of Sutherland Springs who was visiting from Indiana. “But then if it is destroyed, does that mean he (the gunman) won?”
Well, apparently not — at least not if this anonymous donor has anything to do about it.
News reports did not include details about the potential donor — such as how the offer was made or what reasons he or she might have given. However, Replacing buildings after mass murder is a fairly regular process.
The most famous example, obviously, was Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where 26 adults and children were murdered in 2012. It was torn down and replaced with a brand new building. Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, was also partially torn down and rebuilt after the 1999 attack by two students that killed 13.
However, church shootings — especially ones this deadly — are terra nova for our society.
As Ms. Brown points out, this sick shooter should not be allowed to win.
Building a new church would certainly be one of the best ways to ensure that he doesn’t.
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