Holiday grief confronts Sutherland Springs, Las Vegas



By David Roach - Posted at Baptist Press:
"We haven't been called to be preachers as much as we've been called to be ministers," Pomeroy told Baptist Press. "... Run towards the fight rather than away from it is what I would tell other pastors" seeking to alleviate holiday depression.
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas (BP) -- Some churches long have held special Christmas services to acknowledge the pain and loss many people feel surrounding the holidays. But in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and Las Vegas, sadness and grief are particularly intense this year for those impacted by two senseless tragedies.

Amid the aftermath of deadly massacres this fall in both cities, pastors there are seeking avenues to bring consolation and comfort.

The "primary" way to minister to grieving people "isn't a five-step method as much as it is just looking up and saying, 'God, what would You have me to say? What would You have me to do?'" said Frank Pomeroy, pastor of Sutherland Springs' First Baptist Church, where a gunman killed 26 people -- including his 14-year-old daughter Annabelle -- and wounded some 20 others Nov. 5.

In Las Vegas -- where a separate gunman killed 58 people and injured more than 500 more Oct. 1 at an outdoor country music festival -- pastor Michael Rochelle said "a heaviness" remains over the city this Christmas. He noted the "ministry of presence" as well as "active listening" have been important ministry tools.

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