Appling, GA (WJBF) – A church that was once filled with joy, love and praise is now filled with sadness and confusion now that five of its members are no longer part of the congregation after a mass shooting that happened Friday night.
“They were pillars of the community. They were very nice people, very loving people, very giving people. Of course, Mother Reba being an elderly lady, 80 plus old, was the mother of the church, but also the mother to the community,” said Pastor Echols Miller.
Pastor Miller told us that each of the members of his church who were more like family. “Mr. Roosevelt Burns, we called him, ‘”Uncle Dick’. He was a wise man and he has left a legacy for a lot of young brothers to follow behind. Very family-oriented man, very well respected,” said Miller.
Pastor Miller said 31-year old Kelia Clark, who also died that tragic night, had her whole life ahead of her. “She was a nursing student…just recently graduated from nursing and was working at one of the local hospitals and had been planning to get married in October.”
Lizzie Williams and Shelly Williams have been a part of the the Second Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Appling before Miller became the pastor there, nine years ago. They also lost their lives that Friday night. “When we talk about Shelly Williams and Lizzie Williams, they have been members here all of their lives. They lived right up the road, and they were family people. Both were retired and well respected in the community,” remembered Miller.
Pastor Miller said, as he looks out over the congregation, he’ll always be reminded of that devastating night…glancing at the empty seats. But, he adds, the only thing he and others can do now is put their faith in the Lord’s hands. “Just pray and put your trust in God, because He has all the answers. There’s nothing we can do to change anything. The only thing we can do is trust God because He will never leave us nor will He ever forsake us.”
Second Mount Carmel Baptist Church, along with Friendship Ministries, will be holding a prayer vigil Wednesday night at 7:15 pm in the King Villa neighborhood, on Johnson Road, in Appling.
Everyone is asked to bring a white, helium filled balloon to be released as they honor those lives that were lost.