Sunday, March 08, 2009

Baptist Pastor in Illinois shot and killed during service

This morning during the 8:15 am morning service at First Baptist Church in Maryville, Illinois, a 27-year-old man walked down the aisle, exchanged a few words with pastor Fred Winters, pulled out a gun, and shot the pastor to death.

Mark Jones, another pastor at the church, said that he did not recognize the murderer. At this point, nobody knows the motive behind the shooting. The first shot hit the pastor's Bible, two others missed, but one hit and killed him. Then the murderer's gun jammed and he stabbed himself. He was subdued by attenders, two of whom were injured in the process.

Fred Winters leaves behind a wife, two young daughters, and a grieving church that asks for prayer.

The church's statement of faith is sound, but I don't think we need to analyze whether the church does everything exactly as we might wish before we "weep with those who weep" (Romans 12:15). This is a shattering tragedy in their lives. Let us pray that the hearts of our brothers and sisters in Christ are comforted, and that Christ and His Gospel are exalted, in this sad situation. And let us pray for Pastor Winters' widow and children. Also — assuming the facts are as they appear — pray for the murderer's conversion, for his sake (Matthew 5:44); and for justice to be done, for the sake of God's glory (Genesis 9:5-6), for justice's sake (Romans 13:1-4; 1 Peter 2:13-14), and for society's sake (Ecclesiastes 8:11).

Update: Justin Taylor adds details about Dr. Winters to what is reported above.

Update II: the murderer is being reported as Terry Joe Sedlacek, who in August of 2008 was featured in an article on the miserable affects of Lyme disease. It's a gut-wrenching article.


Mr Wizzard said...

We will be praying for their family and congregation, that they not be overcome with grief, but that they might find peace and joy in this tragedy. I'm sure he was eager to be with his Lord.

Shinar Squirrel said...

Our prayers go out for Pastor Winters' family & church. May our great God comfort them and give them peace, and my this tragedy give oportunities to share Jesus with a lost and dying world.

The Squirrel

Julie said...

Oh my goodness, that's horrible.

Praying now.

Mesa Mike said...

This made me cry.

DJP said...

It is a heartbreaking story, all around.

Carol Jean said...

Not a commentary on this church or this pastor, about which I know nothing, but I've heard reported twice that those in attendance thought the attack might have been a "skit." Sad commentary on our culture.

Being the ever concrete, practical, and somewhat morbid person that I am, I do hope the police will allow the family to have possession of the Bible ASAP and not keep it as evidence indefinitely. I imagine it will be very precious to them.

Rachael Starke said...

My heart breaks for those precious girls, and their dear mother, and the family of the gunman, and him too. The consequences of the Fall on our minds and bodies, and even nature, seem to know no bounds.

Another reason to long for Jesus' return, and the new heaven and new earth.

May God pour out His great mercy on all of them.

~Mark said...

Am praying that God might do more because of this, than if it had never happened. His comfort and strength to the family and church.

Aaron said...

Regarding the Bible being given back:

It would be unusual to give back evidence in any investigation, much less a murder investigation unfortunately. The only time I have ever returned evidence is after a guilty plea or for some reason I closed the investigation without prosecution. But I suppose anything is possible with God.

Staci at Writing and Living said...

This is a sad, heartbreaking story. It also hits close to home. A handful of people in my own church body either knew the pastor or have family and friends in his congregation.

And while this has the appearance of a random shooting, I think churches need to be aware that this could happen again, and is likely to. In a culture where standing up for biblical truth can be labeled as "hate speech", I expect that it will happen again. That's one prediction I don't want to be right about.

CR said...

A real travesty especially if the reports on Lyme disease being a cause. It's amazing what sin has done to this world which when the Lord created it, He said, it was good. The creation is groaning for Jesus' return and so am I.

Susan said...


Heart still sinks. May the Lord be more than a husband and a father to Pastor Winter's wife and daughters.