During an emotional press conference on Monday, Frank Pomeroy, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and his wife Sherri addressed the media together for the first time since the mass shooting at their church on Sunday. Suspect Devin P. Kelley of New Braunfels, Texas allegedly open fired on the congregation around 11:30 a.m., killing 26 people, including the Pomeroys 14-year-old daughter Annabelle, and wounding dozens more.
Sutherland Springs is a small community about 40 miles southeast of San Antonio. In the immediate aftermath of the rampage, both Frank and Sherri made it clear that those killed were not just fellow churchgoers but “close friends.” It was message they reiterated on Monday. When asked by a reporter what he plans to tell other grieving families, Frank said that, now more than ever, it is important to turn that which we cannot understand over to God.
"You lean into what you don't understand," says Pastor Frank Pomeroy, who lost his daughter in church shooting. "You lean into the Lord." pic.twitter.com/oSTXdiUA8u
— ABC News (@ABC) November 6, 2017
“Christ is the one who is going to be lifted up, and that’s what I am telling everybody. You lean into what you don’t understand. You lean into the Lord,” he said tearfully. “And I would submit this to everyone—my families here, you guys there—whatever life brings at you, lean on the Lord rather than your own understanding. I don’t understand, but I know my God does.”
He then turned the microphone over to his wife, who gracefully shared that while her family has been humbled by the outpouring of love and prayers for their daughter, they hope the public does not lose sight of the 25 others who were killed.
Pastor's wife speaks on daughter killed in church shooting: "Belle was surrounded yesterday by her church family that she loved fiercely." pic.twitter.com/VTkoMDJEXF
— ABC News (@ABC) November 6, 2017
“News media have been bombarding us with requests to share and comment and appear to celebrate Annabelle’s life, however as much tragedy as that entails for our family, we don’t want to overshadow the other lives lost yesterday,” Sherri said. “We lost more than Belle yesterday.”
Both Sherri and her husband were traveling on Sunday and not at First Baptist at the time of the shooting. She explained that she finds great comfort in knowing her beloved daughter died in the company of those she loved most.
“One thing that gives me a sliver of encouragement is the fact that Belle was surrounded yesterday by her church family that she loved fiercely, and vice-versa,” she said. “Our church was not comprised of members or parishioners, we were a very close family. We ate together, we laughed together, we cried together and worshipped together.”
Sherri heartbreakingly admitted that a large portion of their church community is now deceased, and she asked for prayers while acknowledging that the rebuilding process will not be an easy one.
“Now most of our church family is gone, our building probably beyond repair and the few of us that are left behind lost tragically yesterday,” she concluded. “As senseless as this tragedy was, our sweet Belle would not have been able to deal with losing so much family yesterday. Please don’t forget Sutherland Springs.”
During the same press conference, a pastor from another church eloquently explained that while the entire country may be grieving in the wake of this unthinkable tragedy, we must never lose our faith and trust in God.
Pastor: "We're resilient, we're strong and we're going to continue to worship God, no matter what happens, no matter what attacks come." pic.twitter.com/GCGEdORJXw
— Fox News (@FoxNews) November 6, 2017
“The church is grieving, the body of Christ across this world is grieving, but we are resilient, we’re strong, and we’re going to continue to worship God, no matter what happens,” he said. “That’s a part of our faith… This is what happens sometimes, but our faith is… trusting in God.”
He then offered a touching prayer for the Pomeroys and the entire First Baptist Church family:
“Father, God, we just give this to you. We ask for your cover and your protection. We ask for your healing power, God. We ask for your strength. We ask for your help. You said weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. So we pray this prayer of our pastors, of our leaders across this nation and world. We are one church, and it’s in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”