The Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, has agreed to cover funeral expenses for all 26 of the victims killed during the massacre at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday.
The North American Mission Board, which is the domestic missions arm of the SBC, has also had chaplains on the ground in an effort to help families and survivors.
“Since Sunday evening after the shooting, we’ve received assistance from Disaster Relief chaplains and have been reaching out to local churches to better understand what they need to rally around their friends and families,” Ted Elmore, pastor of church relations for the Southern Baptist Texas Convention, said in a statement.
The agency also made the funeral offer this week, according to The Baptist Press.
And the denomination isn’t alone, as the Texas state government has also stepped in, with the attorney general office’s Texas Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund pledging $6,500 for each victim to help offset funeral costs, NBC reported.
Meanwhile, there’s been support from Texas businessman Trey Ganem, 46, who owns a private casket company; he generously offered caskets free-of-charge for victims.
So far, Ganem has been asked to make 15 custom caskets for victims, which would normally cost $3,500 each.
“Immediately my heart opened up and I was like ‘yes, we can do this.’ It’s a small town. People that felt like they were safe ended up in this tragedy,” told WPMT-TV. “What we want to do is start the healing process here. I want to make sure that we celebrate the lives of the people who were there.”
He added, “God led me to do this.”
The North American Mission Board has also launched a fund to help either repair or rebuild First Baptist’s building, which was badly damaged during the attack:
As Faithwire previously reported, the church building itself might be beyond repair. Shooter Devin Kelley reportedly unloaded 450 rounds, emptying 15 rounds of ammunition at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, inflicting unimaginable carnage and leaving a community in shock, as CNN reported.
Sherri Pomeroy, wife of Pastor Frank Pomeroy, read a statement on Monday that addressed the church shooting as well as the loss of her own 14-year-old daughter, Annabelle.
“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 we worshipped together,” Pomeroy said. “Now most of our church family is gone, our building is probably beyond repair.”