My heart goes out to the family of Rev. Fred Winters, pastor of First Baptist Church, Maryville, IL. According to news reports a gunman killed him in the middle of services at his church this morning. Read a news report HERE.
Cheryl shared the story with me this afternoon while driving back into town. It’s all I’ve been able to think about since. There’s not a sense of fear on my part as a pastor, I just can’t stop thinking about his family and his church. I don’t want to bring more undue attention to the family at such a time as this, although I’m sure the media will cover it thoroughly, but you can read about his family and even see a picture of them on the church’s website. (It wouldn’t surprise me if they take the site down for a couple days shortly.)
In looking through the site I was impressed with the church’s vision. Rev. Winters seemed to have great plans for the future. If you spend some time on the church’s website, check out the future building plans of the church. Wow! One thing that impressed me, and made me realize how God prepares us at times, is the current sermon series Dr. Winters was preaching through. You can listen HERE. Pastor Winters was teaching his church how to be happy in the midst of a scary world. Listen to his sermon from February 22, 2009. He says, “The number one factor in finding happiness in life is faith”, based on Philippians 4:4-9. He goes onto say that all of us desire something deeper than happiness. We want joy and it is not based on our circumstances, but our faith. The news report says Dr. Winters was a “happy” person. I think I know why. (He ends his faith message with a story about his daughters. Prior to the message on faith he had preached on the importance of family. I plan to listen to that sermon next.) I would say he left a great legacy to all who will follow. Let Reverend Winter’s message encourage all of us during the times of uncertainty in the world.
Please pray for this pastor’s family, the church, and the Kingdom of God in the coming days.