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First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs Pastor Frank Pomeroy unveiled designs for a new church Tuesday, nearly five months after a horrific shooting turned the original church’s sanctuary into a memorial. The pastor’s 14-year-old daughter was among those killed.
“What better way to celebrate the resurrection of the Lord then the resurrection of a new church,” Pomeroy said, noting that Easter is this weekend. “I think God choreographed that.”
The new building, situated behind the old church, will feature a 250-seat worship center and memorial tower, something Pomeroy said he specifically requested.
An education center, playground, prayer yard, and parking lot also are included projects in what developers call “Phase 1” of the rebuilding effort. The groundbreaking will occur on May 5, six months to the day after the shooting.
In the immediate aftermath of the Nov. 5 attack that left 26 churchgoers dead and another 20 wounded, a GoFundMe campaign launched by San Antonio contractor Brad Beldon raised more than $1 million for a new church building for the town 37 miles southeast of downtown San Antonio.
However, Mike Ebert, executive director of public relations at North American Mission Board, told reporters at the press conference Tuesday that Beldon’s money would not go toward development of the church. The Mission Board, a Southern Baptist entity leading the development of the new church, asked the Alabama-based design firm Myrick, Gurosky & Associates to join the reconstruction efforts in December 2017. The firm has designed and built nearly 300 church campuses across the southeastern United States.
Ebert told the Rivard Report that coordinating their own fundraising effort for the Sutherland Springs church would be “cleaner and simpler.”
Beldon told the Rivard Report on Tuesday that his team used $93,000 from the funds to purchase the land for the new church. He said the “remaining cash” from the more than $1.1 million raised will be transferred to the North American Mission Board for its reconstruction plans.
“Furthermore, we have provided them with a list of all of the wonderful vendors who have made in-kind donation offers,” Beldon said in a statement to the Rivard Report. “We look forward to seeing the final outcome of this exciting project and are happy to have played a small part in the rebuilding efforts.”
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Scott Gurosky, president of Myrick, Gurosky & Associates, told reporters the cost of the Phase 1 development would amount to nearly $3 million. Ebert encouraged individuals to consider donating to the new drive, but said the North American Mission Board would pay for anything that donations couldn’t.
Ebert said some of Beldon’s money may be used in Phase 2 of the project, which could bring about the construction of a multipurpose facility. However, all three speakers indicated that Phase 2 of the project is an uncertainty.
The gunman, Devin P. Kelley, entered the church during Sunday services and began shooting. The pastor and his wife were out of town when the shooting occurred and their daughter Annabelle was fatally shot.
Congregants of the church have been using a temporary building to continue holding their weekly services.