Dallas-area church grapples with mass shooting in its ‘back yard.’
By Bobby Ross Jr.
ALLEN, Texas — In America, mass shootings keep happening.
The bloodshed has ravaged churches, schools, homes, offices and — just this weekend — a crowded outlet mall about 30 miles north of Dallas.
Roughly 18 hours after eight people, including at least three children, were killed at Allen Premium Outlets in this suburb of 105,000, the Greenville Oaks Church of Christ came together for Sunday morning worship.
“God, we come with broken hearts, sadness, fear, uncertainty, worry, anxiety, loss,” executive minister Matt Mazza said as he opened the assembly with a special prayer.
Related: Prayer and protest: Nation’s latest mass shooting highlights competing messages
“God, we ask you to show your mercy on our community — for your comfort, your peace and your love in this place — because we have experienced the unthinkable,” Mazza added.
He pleaded for God to lift up the families directly touched by the shooting.
“Father,” he prayed, “may they feel your spirit and your presence in a way that only you can provide.”
While gunmen in tactical gear opening fire with AR-style rifles has become all-too-commonplace in the U.S., Saturday’s massacre — just a few miles from the Greenville Oaks church building — stunned the close-knit suburban congregation.
“It’s shocking when it happens in your back yard, and this is our back yard,” said church member Andrea Henderson, who with her husband, Cam, passes the 120-store outlet mall while driving to church.
This story appears at Religion Unplugged and The Christian Chronicle.
Photo by Bobby Ross Jr.