Christian Chronicle

‘He was a hero to his church family’

‘He was a hero to his church family’: Member killed, wife wounded when gunman opens fire on Arizona congresswoman (reporting from Tucson, Ariz.). Page 1 lead.

First Place, News Story, Associated Church Press

Finalist (part of three-story portfolio), Magazine News Religion Reporting, Religion News Association

Third Place, General News Reporting, Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

TUCSON, Ariz. – Until a clear, crisp Saturday morning erupted in gunfire outside a Safeway supermarket, few had heard of the Mountain Avenue Church of Christ.

Desert terrain and mountain ranges surround this city of 550,000, about 60 miles north of the Mexican border, where the 120-member congregation meets in a red-brick building shaded by palm trees.

A familiar face only to his friends, relatives and church family, 76-year-old Dorwan Stoddard served Jesus in obscurity — taking charge of maintaining the 50-year-old church building and leading the benevolence ministry with his wife, Mavy.

“He was a hero to his church family,” pulpit minister Mike Nowak said.

But in an instant, he became a hero to millions and propelled the Mountain Avenue church into the national spotlight.

On the morning of Jan. 8, the Christian couple had gone to meet Rep. Gabrielle Giffords at a “Congress on Your Corner” event. When a would-be assassin opened fire as the Stoddards waited in line, Dorwan tried to protect his wife and was hit in the head, witnesses said.

Tears, prayers follow Arizona mass shooting (reporting from Tucson, Ariz.). Inside Story.

One boy’s Bible reading inspires church. Second Front.

Building a lasting faith in teens: National Conference on Youth Ministries emphasizes the crucial role of parents (reporting from Colorado Springs, Colo.). Second Front.

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