New Sutherland Springs church designs bring hope to healing community

New church to be built next to old one, which now serves as memorial

By Courtney Friedman - VJ, Reporter

A new church for the healing Sutherland Springs community will be filled with symbols of where the congregation has been and where it is headed. 

About five months after a mass shooting claimed the lives of 26 church members designs were released Tuesday for a brand-new place of worship.

The First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs community can be perfectly defined by Psalm 37:23-24: "Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand."

In one day, the Sutherland springs community lost so much, but not everything.

"Just as God was resurrected and brought back, he's bringing Sutherland Springs back," said Frank Pomeroy, the pastor at the church..

Days before Easter, Pomeroy mentioned his town's unbreakable faith and hope. That hope has been strengthened by plans for a beautiful new church. 

"I was amazed with what I saw," Pomeroy said after he was presented with the plans. The North American Mission Board, which supports Southern Baptist churches nationwide, is heading up the project along with Myrick, Gurosky and Associates which will provide development design and construction oversight. 

They'll break ground May 5 on 2 acres next to the current church, which is now a memorial.

The worship area will face Highway 87, with a connecting education center and parking lot around the side. 

Pomeroy and his wife, Sherri, had a big hand in designing the new church, and they had one specific initial request. 

"The bell is coming over from the old building and the children -- a lot of which, we do not have with us anymore, our daughter included -- their favorite thing on Sunday morning after Sunday school would be to rush to the bell and see who could get there first and ring it," Sherri said. 

The sound of that bell will carry memories and traditions into the new 250-seat worship center. That may seem big for the tiny Sutherland Springs community, but that is by design.

"Already, we have folks that come from San Antonio, Floresville, Seguin, Stockdale, Karnes City and more. We're filled to capacity at this point, therefore I see the more that you build the more that will come," Frank said. 

The church will be built of stone, symbolizing the strength and grit of a community that has been forever changed. 
 
Extensive security measures will be built into the new church, including well-lit spaces, good visibility, security systems and more. 

The project is expected to be done by spring of 2019 and is projected to cost $3 million.

The hope is for donations to cover the cost. The church hopes contractors will offer their time and materials. The North American Mission Board will pay for whatever is not covered.

To donate of look at plans, head to www.restoresutherlandsprings.com.

The former church, where the shooting took place, will remain as a memorial for now. 

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