As more details continue to emerge about Wednesday night’s brutal mass shooting, it has been confirmed that a female youth pastor was among the 12 victims. Noel Sparks was a leader at Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village, California. Her death was confirmed by the church’s senior pastor, Shawn Thornton, in a video posted to Facebook.
“We’ve lost a staff member,” said Thornton. “Noel Sparks. She and her mom have been a part of Calvary since she was 15, and she has now stepped into the presence of the Lord. It has been heavy for us, there have been some tears shed, we’ve had some tough conversations.”
Thornton added that a “number of our families have been directly affected” by the shooting that claimed the lives of some 12 people and injured several more.
“We want you to know we are praying,” Thornton assured, saying that the church is holding prayer vigils and worship services over the next few days.
Pastors Brian and Shawn speak to the tragedy at Borderline as we've lost a staff member and mourn for everyone affected by the unthinkable | Watch for opportunities to gather, pray, worship and be together: -Tonight: 7:15-8pm Prayer Vigil in Main Worship Center -Tonight: 8pm Calvary YA Worship Service (Young Adults only please) -Friday: 7:15-8:30pm Community Memorial Service Friday in Main Worship Center -Sunday: 4pm Thousand Oaks Shooting Support Meeting in Room 1100To speak to a grief counselor or minister on call, visit http://www.calvarycc.org/counseling
Posted by Calvary Community Church – Westlake Village on Thursday, November 8, 2018
“We are actively seeking to minister to our community and to be here for them and for you.”
Young Adults pastor Brian Howard said that people should pray for those who survived the shooting, and ask that they would “have faith and hope,” heeding the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians. Howard also urged people to pray that those affected by the shooting would know that “healing really does come through the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
“Finally, that they would have love,” he said. “Love for one another and the hurting and the broken. That they would know the love of God in Christ for them in this moment.”
Thornton also noted that the church’s “care ministry” is “ready to serve and help” at this devastating time.
Some of Sparks’ friends have taken to social media to express their sorrow at her loss.
Update: I just got word that Noel was one of the victims from last nights shooting. Please be in prayer for her family…
Spark’s good friend, Sarah Penrose, said the young ministry worker was a gifted and passionate dancer. “As we say at Calvary often, she lived and loved like Jesus,” Penrose told KTXL. “She was genuinely caring, and loved serving people. She definitely left a legacy of selfless servitude.”
Noel Sparks, a wonderful light in the community and a friend to many, was one of the victims who passed away. I had the distinct honor of knowing her and serving alongside her. There was no one like her. Remember her. #805Strong
— Jake Mouchawar (@jakemouch) November 8, 2018
In a Facebook post after hearing the dreadful news, Penrose wrote: “All I can say is that Jesus loves her FAR more than we ever could. She was always so joyful to help others and fill needs. Wishing I could have spent more time with her before this happened. Praying for her friends and family.”
Many people have posted messages of condolence to Spark’s Facebook page. “Noel, I only got the chance to talk to you once or twice at church group, but right away it was clear you where special,” one person wrote. “You had an authentic love for God and all people, a warm smile that could light up a room. Truly one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met, this is so unfair, but I know you’re in a better place, I will never forget you, RIP.”
A fundraising page has been set up to help Noel’s mother, Wendy, cope with medical bills and funeral costs.
“On behalf of the Conejo Valley community, we are setting up this page to support Wendy after the tragic loss of her beautiful daughter Noel,” reads a description on the page.
“Noel was an amazing soul who lost her life at the Borderline Bar & Grill. We grieve with Tony Sparks and Wendy Anderson. Please do all you can to support Wendy in this time of need and sorrow. Wendy has just undergone back surgery. So, we don’t want her to worry about mounting medical bills and funeral expenses. Please help support her and keep the family in your prayers. All donations will go directly to Wendy. Thank you for your generosity.”
Do pray for the family of Noel Sparks, the Westlake Church community, and all those affected by this terrible tragedy.