By WVUA 23 Student Reporter Bryn Caswell and WVUA 23 Web Writer Jimmy Miller
A local church held a memorial service for the lives lost in the church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas Sunday morning.
Violence overtook the small town early Sunday morning while the residents attended worship services. The suspected shooter, Devin Kelley, opened fire into First Baptist Church, killing 26. Kelley fled the scene and was later found dead in his car. He is believed to have committed suicide.
With hearts breaking across the country, Tuscaloosa’s First United Methodist Church opened their doors to show support for those hurting.
“We may be Baptist, Catholic, Presbyterian, but we are all children of God together and we are going to help one another in a crisis like this,” Rev. Dan Kilgore said.
Members gathered at the church early Monday to pray and have a moment of silence. Their church bells rang 26 times for the 26 people who died.
“To see such devastation and a community of faith so hurt in such a way with so many deaths, we just felt we needed to come together today and pray as a community of faith here in Tuscaloosa,” Rev. Jesse Tosten said.
The violence has brought uneasiness to some members of churches across the country. Some have concerns about their safety in a church, for fear of a copycat attack occurring in their own place of worship. Members of some churches want to encourage their members to be mindful of their safety.
“With any place, with a church especially, it’s a place where you’re vulnerable and susceptible to violence,” said Liz Kindred, a First United Methodist Church employee. “You should be on guard and have a plan always. But we are not always in control of everyone’s actions. You just have to stay vigilant and be aware of your surroundings.”
First United Methodist Church has spoken with local police about looking into ways to make their church more secure during services.