While still in the early planning stages, efforts to rebuild the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs following the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history are moving forward under the management of an Alabama-based design and construction firm.
Myrick, Gurosky & Associates constructs church campuses across the Southeastern United States. The North American Mission Board, a Southern Baptist entity managing contributions for the rebuilding effort, asked the group to join the project in December.
“We’ve done hundreds of church campuses,” said Scott Gurosky, president of the firm, on Friday. He sees the rebuilding effort as an opportunity to turn an act of intentional harm into one that ultimately brings good.
Devin P. Kelley killed 26 people and injured more than 20 when he entered the church during Sunday services on Nov. 5 and began shooting. Among the dead was the 14-year-old daughter of church pastor Frank Pomeroy. Pomeroy and his wife were out of town the day of the shooting.
Gurosky said that while the firm is being intentionally patient and deliberate in its planning, his firm’s designs for the new church may take form on paper within the next six weeks.
The First Baptist Church remained a crime scene for days after the shooting, severely damaged by hundreds of bullet holes. Faith and community leaders quickly decided there would need to be a new church.
But once investigators removed the yellow police tape, community members turned the church into a memorial one week after the shooting. Each of the 26 people killed was commemorated by individual white chairs placed inside the all-white interior.
Church services currently are being held in a temporary structure while congregants await the construction of the new facility.
Pat Dzuik, chairman of a six-member restoration committee formed by the First Baptist Church and other Sutherland Springs community leaders, said he was glad to be working with a firm that has significant experience designing and building churches.
“They’ve done some that are more auditorium-style. We’re looking for a bit more of a traditional church,” Dzuik said. “This is certainly well within their capabilities.”
He said the church’s congregation grew substantially after the attack and thinks the new church will be designed for about 200 to 300 congregants.
Another one of the firm’s tasks is managing the funds donated to assist the rebuilding effort. Brad Beldon, a San Antonio roofing executive, started a campaign in the wake of the shooting that raised more than $1.1 million for the cause.
“Its really encouraging to see the love in the community, and the passion to continue to grow,” Beldon said Friday. “We’re going to build something bigger and better, and everybody in the community is going to benefit from this misfortune.”