EAST TEXAS (KTRE) - Sunday’s deadly shooting at the Starrville Methodist Church in Smith County has left many grieving.
In that shooting, Mark McWilliams, the church’s pastor, was killed. A second person was shot, and the pastor’s wife was hurt in a fall.
“Sadness,” said Wooduronn Holman, the pastor of Starville CME Church. “Here it is once again that not only we as a faith community but as a community-at-large are having to deal with another tragedy.”
Starrville CME Church is located about a mile and a half from the Starrville Methodist Church.
“I thought about the pastor’s family and his church family, as well,” Holman said. “Immediately, I started to offer up prayers not only for his family but the entire church family, as well. Once I learned of the young man who was involved, my thoughts went to him and his family. Although he is not a victim, he has been impacted.”
“What an enormous tragedy,” said Ted Campbell, a professor of church history at Southern Methodist University.
Campbell said his first pastoral appointment was in 1974 at the First United Methodist Church of Winona, which is about four miles west of Starrville.
“I had folks in my congregation who knew that congregation very well,” Campbell said. “They attended meetings there. Folks in Starrville and beyond Starrville. I knew that area very well.”
“As a pastor, trying to have your sacred calling on the first Sunday of the year getting ready to worship and to encounter violence on that day, it really broke my heart, said Jerome Brimmage, the senior pastor at the First United Methodist Church in Lufkin.
“Starrville [Methodist Church] is an independent Methodist Church, but there is still a bond in the Method denomination,” Brimmage said. “Our churches in Lindale and Winona are reaching out to them, and we will support them in any way we can. We are in deep prayer for that community.”
“We are brothers and sisters in Christ,” Holman said. We are brothers and sisters in this community. Instead of allowing something like this to pull us apart, allow it to pull us together, and in this, let good overcome evil.”
Holman says he and members of his congregation are meeting Monday night to discuss how they can offer assistance and prayers to members of the Starrville Methodist Church.