Pasco pastor shares church members' story of loss after Texas shooting
TRI-CITIES, Wash. – A family in the Tri-Cities is mourning the loss of loved ones, following the mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas during Sunday service.
A gunman opened fire at First Baptist Church in the small Texas town east of San Antonio, killing at least 26 people. Several of them were relatives of congregants at College View Baptist Church in Pasco.
Action News met with the pastor and he shares what his congregation experienced in their church that morning.
"We believe this and we will live this out. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen," Pastor David Popovich said as he bowed his head in prayer.
Popovich was in the middle of Sunday’s service, when suddenly Pam Massey, a member of church, left to answer a phone call.
She returned visibly weeping and raised her hand to get the pastor’s attention.
"I asked ‘What's going on?’ Popovich explained. “She said there was a shooting in Texas in my daughter's church. We need to pray."
The congregation stopped the service and gathered around Pam and Scott Massey and their children. They started praying.
In the middle of that prayer the church phone rang. A church member sprinted down the hallway to answer the call. They pulled Pam outside.
"All of the sudden we hear wailing from the hallway," Popovich said. "That's when we learned from her daughter Jenny who was on the way to the hospital. She was letting us know that her husband Danny had been hit, and their 18-month-old Noah, had been hit and passed away."
Pam's daughter Jenni was part of the Holcombe family who lost 8 family members in the shooting, including an unborn child.
When the gunman attacked, Danny tried to save his wife and child by guarding them with this body.
Popovich’s message in his service on Sunday was a discussion about the devastation of Christian persecution in the world.
"It was a surreal moment as we're talking about the persecuted church and how God is good and how God can help us—we in that moment then had to learn it," he said.
Pam’s strength in this event also amazed Popovich. It had been about 20 minutes after the phone call and this is the first thing she said as her children walked to her for comfort.
“It's going to be okay. God is still good. I don’t know why this happened, but there is purpose and God's going to do something good through this," Popovich recalled.
When tragedy hits, he said there's never a perfect word.
"The Bible has so many truths in it, but when people are mourning most of the time they just need hugs and they just need love,” Popovich said. “Honestly, what we did as a church is we wrapped our arms around them and we cried, we prayed, and we just held them."
When a church congregation is targeted, he said many worry about security.
"Our first instinct is to be afraid, our first instinct is to lock the doors, but as a church that is not what we are meant to do," Popovich explained.
He said they'll look at their safety protocols and find ways to learn from tragedies like this.
The church already records and shares their services on the web, and they have goals of providing live online services as well.
"But we want to encourage people not to let fear keep you away from living your life," Popovich said.
With hope and their faith, Popovich said they'll help the Massey family begin to heal.
College View Baptist Church is holding a prayer service this Wednesday at 6 p.m. located at 2100 W Agate St, Pasco.
The community is invited to attend.
If you’d like to help the Massey family, donations can also be made online on the Church’s website as a general donation. Add a note that it is for the Massey Family.