A neighboring sister-church to the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs is providing support to its heartbroken neighbors.
The surviving members of the the congregation in Sutherland Springs will come together for a Sunday service this weekend at the community, the first service since the mass shooting at their church.
Great-grandparents Joe and Clarissa Holcombe lost three-generations of family members in just minutes, when eight in the Holcombe family were shot and killed.
Bryan and Karla Holcombe worked with local youth in the churches and ran summer camps.
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS -
The Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs says the small wooden church where Sunday's horrific shooting took place will be demolished.
Twenty-six people were shot and killed there, and Pastor Frank Pomeroy says the building is too painful of a reminder. The site may be turned into a memorial.
Although their church is uninhabitable, sprayed by bullets, it will not stop people from the congregation who survived the shooting from coming together this Sunday. Half of the congregation has been killed or injured, but one week after the horrific massacre, the survivors will come together for a Sunday service.
It will be with the backing and support of neighboring church communities.
Thirteen miles away, the First Baptist Church of Floresville is the sister-church to the one in Sutherland Springs. Both congregations mingle through community events, youth programs, and summer camp.
Now they are forever connected in a tragic bond.
The pastor of the Floresville church knew 14 of the people killed in Sunday's massacre.
"I'm at the emergency room and these people are shot, and there's blood, and I'm praying with people that told me they lost some of their loved ones," Pastor Mike Clements said.
The Holcombe family represents one of the more heart breaking connections between the two churches. Eight members of that family died in Sunday's rampage.
The patriarchs of the family, Joe and Clarissa Holcolme, were not there. They attend the Floresville Baptist church, where Mike Clements is their pastor.
"I went over to see them, and they didn't know anything," Pastor Clements explained. "I said 'You don't know anything?' 'No, we don't know anything.' So I sat down and I thought, 'I'm the guy that's got to tell them. I'm their pastor.' So I told them."
In just minutes, the great-grandparents lost three generations of family members.
"I deal with funerals a lot, I deal with death a lot, and people had tremendous tragedy that I had to deal with in their lives. But it's usually always just one person out of the family. I've never had an experience where they lost eight people," Clements said.
Pastor Clements and his family also felt the loss. They shared many memories with Karla and Bryan Holcombe.
"Just him taking us on simple things, like fishing," said Micah Clements, Pastor Clements' son.
The couple led a youth camp, and Clements' four sons spent summers at the boys camp with Bryan.
"He took a lot of people around town who didn't have parents, I was fortunate to have good parents, but he took a lot of kids around town that maybe had a single mom or something, and really was just a mentor to them. He was a great man," Micah Clements said.
This Sunday, parishioners of the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs will come together for the first time, seven days after they lost so many of their own.
"It will be paramount, to lock arms, to hold hands, to say you know what, not one of us is going through this solo," Pastor Clements said.
He will not attend the service, giving the grieving congregation space to be alone with one another. However his church is standing by to offer any support needed for their heartbroken neighbors.
"Just being there, and letting you know that you love them, and you care about them. That is meaningful, and that helps them," Pastor Clements said.
Security will be tight at Sunday's service at the Sutherland Springs Community Center. Pastor Frank Pomeroy plans to speak.
Many churches in the area are still determining whether they will make long-term security changes. Nonetheless, they say it will not stop the congregations from coming together every Sunday.
Reading on your phone? It's better with the app. Download the KRIS 6 News Mobile App for iOS/iPhone here and for Android here.