First Baptist Church Pastor Frank Pomeroy ministered to his grieving Sutherland Springs, Texas, community during a news conference Monday while speaking about the death of his 14-year-old daughter, Annabelle, who was gunned down by mass shooter, Devin Kelley.
Frank and his wife, Sherri — who were traveling and not present for the shooting — addressed the media together and spoke of their care for their church family and of their trust in God.
What did the pastor say?
When asked by a reporter what he plans to tell other grieving families, Pomeroy responded that it's more important than ever to trust God and to avoid leaning on human understanding.
"Christ is the one who is going to be lifted up, and that’s what I am telling everybody," Frank tearfully said. "You lean into what you don’t understand. You lean into the Lord. 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."
What did the pastor's wife say?
Sherri told the crowd that while she and her family appreciate the outpouring of love and support received, she hopes that their personal tragedy doesn't overshadow the greater tragedy of the community.
"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 explained. "We lost more than Belle yesterday."
She noted appreciation that her daughter was surrounded by her church family on Sunday.
"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," Sherri 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 concluded with a plea for people to remember the town of Sutherland Springs.
"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 said. "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."
Is there more?
A pastor from another church closed the conference in prayer.
He said, "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."
"That’s a part of our faith," he added. "This is what happens sometimes, but our faith is ... trusting in God."