The message during the first Sunday service held since church shooting

Inside the sanctuary of the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. It has been transformed into a memorial to victims. (KXAN Photo: Frank Martinez)
Inside the sanctuary of the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. It has been transformed into a memorial to victims. (KXAN Photo: Frank Martinez)

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas (KXAN) – A black tarp surrounded the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs on Sunday.

On the other side is the sanctuary, which volunteers helped transform into a memorial after last Sunday’s mass shooting. They placed 26 empty chairs for all the lives lost inside.

Earlier, about 700 people gathered for the first Sunday service.

Memorial near 1st Sunday Service in Sutherland Springs after mass shooting.

Pastor Frank Pomeroy led the sermon and said, “Rather than choose darkness … we choose life.”  Pastor Pomeroy’s 14-year-old daughter was among the victims.

He had to pause at one point to wipe away tears when talking about his daughter and some of his best friends he lost that day. “My heart breaks. I don’t understand, but I know my God has a plan,” he said.

The church was going to hold services at the community center nearby, but moved the location after learning that hundreds were expected. Organizers said they were able to get a tent donated and quickly set up near the baseball field.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, spoke at the service and afterwards said he is hoping as early as tomorrow to introduce legislation which he says needs to fix a broken background check system. “My hope is that we can expedite consideration of this getting into law and make sure this sort of thing never happens again,” he said.

Those who missed the service Sunday morning stopped by the church all afternoon and dropped off flowers. Strangers hugged each other and were praying for this small town and the congregation inside the First Baptist Church.

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