SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas (KXAN) — The congregation of First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs hugged, lit candles and prayed.
During Christmas Eve services, the message of hope echoed through the portable building which sits right next to the white church. In November, a gunmen walked into the church and killed 26 people.
The church’s Pastor Frank Pomeroy focused on the meaning of Christmas, despite heartbreak. His 14-year-old daughter was among the victims in the mass shooting.
“Yes, our hearts are broken. Yes, there are those who may not be with us any longer,” he said. “But praise God that I have the hope that I’m going to see my loved ones and my friends again.”
The sanctuary, which was turned into a memorial, is still open. Church members said there is someone there everyday and they go inside to pray for the families who lost loved ones, for the wounded and for this small town.
“We are OK,” said Terrie Smith, president of the Sutherland Springs Community Association. “The tears of the heartbroken is still constant. It still hurts, but now we are starting to share the silliness and the funniness of everybody that we have lost.”
Inside the community center near the church, hot cocoa was served, gifts handed out and for a few minutes Santa made a special stop. The community association along with the Chosen Few Trail Riders wanted to do something to help with the healing.
“We are working together just to make people feel good even if it’s just for a little while,” said Crystal Barkley with the Chosen Few Trail Riders.
Pastor Pomeroy told the congregation that they’ve gotten thousands of letters and cards from around the world after the tragedy. He shared a few at Sunday nights service saying that’s one way he feels hopeful.