The ground has been broken for a new church building in Sutherland Springs, Texas, only six months after a gunman opened fire on a church service.
A gunman burst into the church and took the lives of more than two dozen people while they were attending their normal church service.
The church honored the victims while breaking ground on a new site.
Senator Ted Cruz spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony, which included a prayer walk, a service, worship music, and lunch, as well as several speakers.
“Six months ago today, the community saw unspeakable evil,” Senator Ted Cruz said. Cruz added that after the shooting, the church gathered together, and set an example for all those around them.
“You saw love. You saw strength. You saw compassion. You saw courage. You saw sacrifice,” said Cruz, telling church members that “the entire world saw the Gospel,” because of them.
“And as the eyes of the world focused on Sutherland Springs, this community, this church, the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs showed the world of Jesus Christ,” Senator Cruz said.
Cruz also praised the church for the way they showcased their strength, in a “powerful” way that “as each of you grieving leaned on each other.” He told the church body and survivors that their reaction “reflected the love of Jesus.”
Sherri Pomeroy, wife of the head-pastor, and mother of a 14-year-old that was killed spoke about the importance of the memories of the dead. She stated that the groundbreaking that took place exactly six months later, “celebrate[d] the lives that our friends and family lived.”
Many church members spoke at the groundbreaking, emphasizing the importance of keeping the memories of those dead, alive.
“Keep those memories in our heart because we will never forget,” Helen Biesenbach, a church member since the 80’s said.
“Life has changed but believe me this is a strong community,” Biesenbach stated. She was not present at the shooting but knows many of the victims and those affected.
Not only did they break ground on the six-month mark, but they also offered baptisms for the first time on the property.
Reverand Frank Pomeroy, who lost his 14-year-old daughter, offered to baptize, which in the Bible signifies new life, much like what the church was experiencing.
Pomeroy spoke, stating that even though there was no actual building yet, “God’s already been moving through this place.”
“We need to remember from the prayer that started from 9:00 to all the folks you’ve heard speak to the bells that were ringing, its God who gets the glory,” stated Pomeroy.
“And we need to continue to do that. Hallelujah. Its God who gets the claps, its God who gets the glory, its God who gets all the blessings.”
Pomeroy was specific to point out that “we are, and have been, and are still going through grief,” but that there is “also joy” and “there is redemption and praise God there is rebirth.”
The construction of the new church building will begin later this month and they plan to hold the first service next Spring.
You can watch the full video of the groundbreaking ceremony below: