The pastor of Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church in Texas announced Thursday that the building will be demolished.
Pastor Frank Pomeroy, who lost his 14-year-old daughter and half of his church family in the massacre, told the Southern Baptist Convention that the building reminded people too much of the shooting. The site of the church may serve as a memorial, but for now the congregation of First Baptist will hold their services elsewhere. The best way to move forward, Pomeroy said, is to begin anew.
“There’s too many that do not want to go back in there,” Pomeroy told The Wall Street Journal. Pomeroy at the time was not certain what would become of the church, but confirmed Thursday that it would be razed to the ground.
“The pastor expressed his desire that perhaps the best way forward is to have the church demolished and replaced with a prayer garden,” SBC spokesman Roger Oldham told USA Today.
Oldham told The Associated Press that Pomeroy believed the church was “too stark of a reminder” of the senseless tragedy in which a shooter killed 26 congregants, including eight members of a single family. Oldham said that the surviving congregants have not had a chance to come together and make a joint decision about the church in the wake of the shooting, but those who have spoken out about the decision, like Charlene Uhl, expressed agreement with Pomeroy.
“There should still be church but not here,” said Uhl, whose 16-year-old daughter Haley Krueger died in the shooting.