SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas - It's a new beginning for the community of Sutherland Springs as construction on a new worship center and education building is set to begin.
Although people are still grieving from the shooting that killed 26 parishioners, the plan is to restore hope. Congregation leaders hope donations will help fund the up to $3 million dollar project. But, they say its the prayers they continue to receive that are helping in this process the most.
For the community of Sutherland Springs, new construction at the First Baptist Church is supposed to represent new life and growth.
"Just as God was resurrected and brought back, he's bringing Sutherland Springs back. These plans, this building and all the work that's going into it, it's showing just how much God can move in a community in such a short time," says Pastor Frank Pomeroy, First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs.
Construction on two new buildings will begin in May. Phase one is a 250-seat worship center and educational building which will be built next to the existing church. The development will be led and funded by the North American Mission Board in partnership with construction company MG&A. Pastor Frank Pomeroy says it's exactly what they had envisioned.
"We stood strong, not because of our power but because of he who strengthens us and that is the rock. We built our church upon the rock and that rock is going to be represented in the facade of that church. The light, let the light shine on my path. The light is God's word. The light that comes into that building again represents the word of God, being the light into our path," says Pastor Pomeroy.
On November 5, 2017 a gunman took the lives of 26 worshipers, another 20 injured in the attack. Instead of reflecting on that, the community is looking to restore hope.
"That building is a building, however, it is what that building signifies for the people who are coming there come together, bind together, love together, cry together, hurt together, grow together," says Pastor Pomeroy.
There will be two towers on the worship center facing Hwy 87. One will be a light tower, the other a bell tower with a memorial for the victims. It holds a special meaning to the congregation and to the children who lost their lives in the tragedy, including the Pomeroy's daughter.
"Their favorite thing Sunday morning, right after Sunday school, was to rush to the bell to see who could get there first and ring it, to signify it's time for church. They would run over and say 'Preacher can he ring the bell first? Is it my turn this week?' It was a big deal to them who got to ring the bell first," says Sherri Pomeroy, wife of Pastor Frank Pomeroy.
The current church will serve as a memorial for the time being. Pastor Pomeroy says the new construction is designed to be big enough for neighboring communities, so they can all pray and heal together.
"I see the more that you build, the more that will come as long as God is being lifted up. God says lift up my name and I'll draw all men onto myself," says Pastor Pomeroy.
In the construction process, they have specific security measures in mind but do not want to advertise what those are. Construction on Phase 1 is expected to be completed in early 2019. Phase 2 will include a multi-purpose facility in the same area. They have yet to design it and it could take several years until it comes into fruition.
If you want to help in the restoration of the church, click here: