SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - More than 50 people gathered at Starrville Methodist Church Tuesday afternoon for their weekly prayer meeting, which was attended by both church members and those from surrounding areas. The gathering was the first without their pastor, Mark McWilliams.
“Mark was a man that absolutely loved God, there’s no denying it, that’s all he could talk about. He was a Christian through and through,” said wife Rosemary McWilliams, who was also injured in Sunday’s shooting incident.
She says Mark began the prayer service about a year ago because he wanted to see lives changed.
Rosemary McWilliams was one of many who spoke at the service. Pastor Kyev Tatum, from Fort Worth, came today after he heard the news Sunday morning.
“When I heard that, it just struck me. We needed to come and share something with this family to let them know that even though you’re down here in East Texas, that there are people across this country and state that want you to know we love you and we care about you and we want to help you during this time,” he said.
Tatum’s community was able to raise about $1,650 in a day, and get care packages together for the church.
“We know they’re hurting and we know that there are going to be some unexpected expenses, and we know that we can never give enough to take away that pain of that loss,” Tatum said. “We can make that ride a lot easier.”
Vint Hargrave from Mansfield also came. He is not a stranger to loss. Four years ago he says he lost his son.
“It was the grief that moved me to come out and let everyone here know that we’re standing. We’re standing in love together, united,” Hargrave said.
Not only are people from around Texas thinking of this community, but also nationwide.
“I know this went national, I talked to some friends in Virginia that saw this story. Those that know God’s love and are hurting and have grieved are here; they’re present in the community here,” Hargrave said.
Tatum hopes this is the beginning of a supportive relationship with Starrville and their church.