The mass shooting at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, TX, one week ago, in which 26 people’s lives were tragically taken, left a community broken and mourning the loss of their friends and family. A shooter claimed the lives of both adults and children, among which were an unborn baby and Pastor Frank Pomeroy’s 14-year-old daughter.
Pomeroy has said that he wanted to demolish the church and potentially erect a memorial in its place. But through the efforts of the church community, the sanctuary of the church itself was quickly transformed into a memorial.
The interior of the First Baptist Church, transformed into a memorial with the names of all 26 victims painted on the backs of wooden chairs pic.twitter.com/ZGSKKSqjhg
— Jasper Scherer (@jaspscherer) November 12, 2017
The church’s associate pastor, Mark Collins, said in a message on the church’s website:
“This is our church, but it is not just us that are suffering. This tragedy has rocked our nation, and has had an impact on all Americans and our country as a whole. It is our hope that this will be healing for everyone.”
The interior of the church was gutted, its walls and floors painted completely white. Twenty-six white, wooden chairs face a wooden cross on a stage. Each chair bears a red cross on the back and the name of a victim written in gold on the front. A long stemmed red rose was placed in each seat.
The one exception to this is a chair with a pink rose, to memorialize the unborn baby slain in the attack.
Before the cross is an open Bible and behind it is a poster of an excerpt from Psalm 100, the psalm that was meant to be read the day of the attack.
According to CNN, the poster read:
Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name…His love is eternal; His faithfulness endures through all generations.
A speaker plays recordings of some of the victims reciting verses, their voices echoing through the hall.
The memorial is a jarring reminder that those voices will never again sing God’s praises in a place that provided a haven for community members to pray and connect.
And the chairs, once filled with devout worshippers, will never again be filled.