SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - Three days after an East Texas pastor was shot and killed in his church, an organization out of Brooklyn, New York hosted a virtual memorial service in his honor.
Nearly 15 hundred miles away, the 67th Precinct Clergy Council first heard of Starrville Methodist Pastor Mark McWilliams death late Sunday, or early Monday, according to President Gilford Monrose.
“That of course is always so close to home. You know, we open up our churches without security all the time,” Monrose said. “We serve the community and so people are coming in and out. And for us it was very close to home. It could happen to anyone and so we saw ourselves as Pastor Mark.”
Monrose said he immediately called his team and shared the news. They knew something had to be done.
“We don’t know him, we have never seen his church before, I’ve never listened to one of his sermons, I don’t know his family,” he said. “But one thing that we do know, we know the love of God. The love of God compels us to be able to show love.”
So today, people from all over the nation were invited to hear words of prayer and condolences to the family... from a family they never knew they had.
“The clergy was saying we should not wait for a national movement to jump on board. We should lead this. He was someone who was in a small… I’ve never heard of Winona, Texas. I don’t know where it is. But I know that he was leading a group of people who loved him. He loved what he did, and being called to minister to those individuals,” Monrose said.
The organization announced that they have created a GoFundMe to support families and churches who have lost leaders due to gun violence.
Visitation for Williams will start at 1 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 11, at the Starrville Methodist Church, which is located at 17339 FM 18 in Winona. The funeral will follow at 2 p.m. Burial will be in the Starrville Cemetery after the service.
To read McWilliam’s obituary, click this link.