NorthPointe Baptist Church in Arlington gathered for its first Sunday worship since its pastor, Clint Dobson, was killed Thursday and ministry assistant Judy Elliott was seriously injured in an attack at the church.
The families of Pastor Dobson and Elliott attended the morning service surrounded by grieving friends. The church provided a video feed from the service and asked the news media to stay outside.
"This is not Clint's funeral. Okay?" began Sr. Pastor Dennis Wiles, of First Baptist Church Arlington. "We're going to have Clint's funeral later. Today, we're going to worship Jesus."
Pastor Wiles stepped in to deliver the sermon at NorthPointe, where he is no stranger, having taught Dobson at Truett Seminary. The teacher had to give words of comfort to his former student's grieving congregation.
Through tears, worshippers still sang, despite the pain in their hearts. They turned to scripture to find answers.
"The mood would definitely be one of shock, disbelief. It's somber. But I think the people have been amazing in how they've ministered to each other," said Dr. Terry Bertrand, associate pastor of administration, who was Dobson's supervisor. "We have a hope that we can overcome the sin."
Many have asked, where was God when a pastor dedicated to helping the poor was killed?
"As sad as it is for me to say this to y'all, it's the honest truth," said Pastor Wiles. "God's design for eternity is in the heart of a cold-blooded killer."
Dobson leaves behind his parents; his wife, Laura; and a church family who must find a way to move on without him.
Police have arrested Steven Lawayne Nelson, 24, at an apartment complex less than a mile from the church. No formal charges have been filed against him, but a capital murder charge is pending. The arrest came after police Saturday afternoon found Elliott's missing car.
Elliott is still at JPS Hospital receiving treatment for her injuries.