Oh no, Lord. Not again. That was my sad reaction when I heard the news of the church shooting in Texas. It was hard to believe that this could happen again in the place where many of us go for comfort and renewed strength. But it has, and today I mourn with those who mourn the deaths of another 26 victims.
To dedicated churchgoers, Sunday is a very special day. Not only do we go to church to praise and worship our God, we also go for fellowship and friendly interaction with people we only get to see once a week at church.
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First Baptist of Sutherland Springs, Texas, seems very much like my own church. It is a small congregation, where everyone knows everyone else. It’s the kind of church where its members grew up, got married and later had our children dedicated. It’s the kind of church where our children grow up and later, after a declaration of faith, also become members.
This is how I imagine life was for the people at First Baptist. How was Devin Patrick Kelley able to kill so many, including nine members of one family — spanning three generations — in last Sunday’s church massacre?
I can imagine the day started out for the members just like any other Sunday. Parishioners woke up early. Some even started their after-worship Sunday dinner before getting dressed for church. Some were probably humming their favorite hymn as they scurried about. It was going to be a wonderful, fall day. And then ...
In times like these, even some diehard Christians start to question their faith. It isn’t easy to understand why such violence is often rained down on the people of God. And I can’t say that I, who trust God in all that I do, understand Sunday’s violence. But I can say that even though I don’t understand the whys and the how comes of the situation, I still trust Him. It’s like the Rev. Frank Pomeroy, pastor of First Baptist said in the aftermath of the shooting: “I don’t understand, but I know my God does.” Pomeroy and his wife were out of town when the massacre happened. Their daughter Annabelle, 14, was one of the victims.
So, today, as survivors bury their loved ones, I can only pray that the Lord will comfort them, that the heartbroken family members who are left behind will actually feel the loving arms of Jesus hugging them, helping them through this dark valley they are traveling through.
Still, as pictures of the crime scene sink in, the questions still go unanswered: Is there no safe place? What kind of anger would cause a human being to rain down destruction and death on other humans? How many more times will we have to cry with those who are left to pick up the pieces after some deranged person has disrupted their way of life? And how do we comfort the hurting?
I realize there are no pat answers and that my questions, which like those of millions of other Americans, are born out of pure frustration, sadness and anger.
As we learn more about the shooter, who killed 4 percent of the population of Sutherland Springs, more questions emerge: Why did he slip under the radar after being court-martialed and dishonorably discharged from the Air Force? Why was he able to purchase the guns — his tools of destruction?
Kelley was known to be a violent man. He had nearly killed his young stepson by shaking the child. But somehow that information, and the fact that he had been court-martialed for domestic assault by the U.S. Air Force, weren’t deemed important enough to be sent to a civilian law enforcement agency.
The sad truth is, somebody made a terrible mistake and 26 innocent victims had to pay for it.
Church celebrates 42nd Convocation
New Way Fellowship Praise and Worship Church will celebrate its 42nd Convocation with a week of worship and activities at the church, 16800 NW 22nd Ave. in Miami Gardens. The theme: 42 Years That God Has Covered Us #Still Counting”.
The convocation will begin at 7:30 a.m. Sunday with Pastor Marlin Atherton from CORE Ministries as the guest speaker. The midmorning service, which begins at 10:45 a.m., will feature Pastor Ronald Strong from Mount Tabor First Baptist Church at Palatka, Florida, as the guest preacher. Other special guests will include “sons” and “daughters,” who grew up under the tutelage of Bishops Billy and Catherine Baskin, and who are now serving in the ministry, as well as other former members of New Way.
Activities Nov. 15-17 will begin at 7 p.m. They are:
▪ Nov. 15: Family Fun Night, featuring talent by Deacons’ Family Group; food will be served.
▪ Nov. 16: Guest church Mount Tabor Baptist Church with Pastor Wendell Paris in charge of the service.
▪ Nov. 17: A Youth Concert. featuring the music and dance ministries of the church.
▪ Nov. 18: The church will host a Career Expo from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Breakfast will be served from 9:30 to 10 a.m. The event is open to the community.
The Convocation will culminate on Nov. 19, with Minister Arisha Knowles as the guest preacher at 7:30 a.m., and Minister David Ramjohn as the preacher at 10:45 a.m. During the service, a special recognition will be given Ulysese Jefferson for his benevolence toward the church’s media ministry. He will be honored with the media ministry named in his honor.
The Bishops Baskins invite the community to join them in celebrating this milestone of the church.
Jewish Book Festival
At 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 16, Temple Judea at 5500 Granada Blvd in Coral Gables, will present Washington Post reporter Souad Mekhennet as the guest speaker at the Alper Jewish Community Center’s Jewish Book Festival.
Mekhennet is the author of the books, “I Was Told to Come Alone” and “My Journey Behind the Lines of Jihad.” She was born and educated in Germany. In her memoir, “I Was Told to Come Alone,” Mekhennet offers a penetrating look at the roots of Islamist radicalism.
The book tells of her journey into the heart of the Muslim world, starting in the German neighborhoods where the Sept. 11 plotters were radicalized and the Iraqi neighborhoods where Sunnis and Shia turned against one another, and culminating on the Turkish/Syrian border region where ISIS is a daily presence.
The program starts at 7:30 p.m. and admission is $10 per person and includes the presentation from the author and refreshments. For more information, call Shelia Stieglitz at 305-4968.
Congratulations to Trinity CME Church on its 92nd anniversary, which church pastor the Rev. Marquis L. Hardrick and the congregation will be celebrating throughout November.
The church, now at 511 NW Fourth St. in Overtown, was first located on Northwest Fifth Court, across the street from Dunbar Elementary School.
One of the church’s early pastors was the Rev. L. H. Portlock. His wife, Dorothy, was a piano teacher who taught a number of local musicians their first piano lessons.
For service times and information about anniversary services throughout the month, call Doretha Graham Nichson at 786-942-8975 or email her at email@example.com
‘A Potpourri of Music’
Temple Beth Tov Ahavat Shalom at 6438 SW Eighth St. in West Miami will present “A Potpourri of Music” featuring the Klezmer Company Jazz Orchestra at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. The orchestra is directed by Aaron Kula.
Tickets are $25 for adults, and $12 for children ages 8 to 15. Following the program free refreshments will be served.
If you go, please bring items for the hurricane-ravaged victims of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Call 786-223-7757, 786-325-3055 or 305-387-0622 for more information.
Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Religion Notes, c/o Neighbors, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.