Home Christian News Pastors Gather To Respond, Recount Minutes Before, After School Shooting

Pastors Gather To Respond, Recount Minutes Before, After School Shooting

Though he experienced some “iffy” situations in that time, he said he’s never been this close to such violence.

“My wife and I lost a son at 30 years old very suddenly,” he said. “When you lose a child it’s just overwhelming. I can’t imagine having lost a precious 10-year-old son or daughter in such tragic circumstances.”

Leaders from the Baptist General Convention of Texas and Southern Baptists of Texas Convention have been in contact, Larner said, with state executives Nathan Lorick (SBTC) and David Hardage (BGCT) each expressing their support and prayers.

Tony Gruben, pastor of Baptist Temple Church, is the current president of the local ministerial alliance. The road ahead will be long, as numerous churches in the area and association are directly impacted by the shooting.

“Emotions were pretty raw for families waiting outside the civic center last night, and they’ll continue to be for a while,” he said. “We’re having a prayer gathering tonight where I’ll share out of Psalm 46 and talk about how God is our refuge and strength in times of trouble.”

RELATED: Reassess, Be Vigilant, Church Security Experts Advise Following Latest Shooting

Last night ministers at the civic center focused on supporting counselors who will have many long days ahead.

An employee of a Baptist camp north of the city lost a daughter, Larner said. Neighbors of a staff member at First Baptist received news their granddaughter was among the dead. Larner feels certain that he and his wife shared the table with a young victim at a wedding ceremony in December.

Accepting the weight of the tragedy will take time, said a trauma expert.

“The initial reaction is denial,” said Evan Owens, executive director for Reboot Recovery, a faith-based trauma recovery program. “It’s not out of ignorance or naiveté, but because the things we just experienced aren’t congruent to the future. Grief, in general, changes our future without our permission.

“To feel any of it is to feel all of it at once. That’s overwhelming.”

Owens said it’s important for churches to be safe spaces for communication in these times.

“We need to be a place where you can talk about this stuff. Don’t sugarcoat it. Trauma is our intersection with the brokenness of the world.”

The shooter attended Uvalde High, where a ceremony was to be held yesterday for Barboza’s oldest son, Eli, signing his letter of intent to play linebacker at Oklahoma Panhandle State University in the fall. That ceremony was why the couple checked Levi out of school.

Eli learned about the shooting and joined his family at the funeral home, staying outside out of concern for friends whose siblings had yet to be located.

RELATED: Buffalo Mass Shooting Victims Include Licensed Missionary, Church Deacon

“He was a little shaken that his little brother was so close to it,” Barboza said, adding that his younger son is still processing it all. “He knew several of the kids who were shot and killed.”

But it has begun to sink in that May 24, 2022, was a before/after day. Driving back by the school, the fourth-grader felt it.

He started to cry.

This article originally appeared at Baptist Press.