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Baptist Pastor Murdered Yesterday During AM Service

Jim Suhr – Associated Press Writer – 3/8/2009 4:15:00 PM

MARYVILLE, Ill. – A gunman walked down the aisle of an Illinois church during a Sunday service and killed the pastor, then stabbed himself and slashed two other people as congregants wrestled him to the ground, authorities said.

The man walked into the sprawling red brick First Baptist Church shortly after 8 a.m. and briefly spoke with The Rev. Fred Winters before pulling out a .45-caliber handgun and shooting Winters once in the chest, said Illinois State Police Master Trooper Ralph Timmins.

 The gun jammed before the man could fire again, Timmins said. The attacker then pulled out a knife and injured himself before churchgoers subdued him. Two parishioners involved in the struggle also suffered knife wounds, Timmins said.

 Timmins said officials don’t know whether Winters, a married father of two who had led the church for nearly 22 years, and the gunman knew each other.

Officials did not know the suspect’s name.

“We don’t know the relationship (between the gunman and pastor), why he’s here or what the circumstances came about that caused him in the first place to be here,” Timmins said.

The Rev. Mark Jones, another pastor at First Baptist, said he did not recognize the gunman, who he saw briefly before the man pulled out his weapon. Jones went into an adjacent room and did not see the shooting, though he heard a sound like miniature fire crackers.

“We have no idea what this guy’s motives were,” Jones said outside the church. “We don’t know if we’ll ever know that.”

To read the rest of this article, click here.

 

A Message About Our Loss – from the church website

On Sunday, March 8, 2009, a little after our 8:15 service began, a man entered First Baptist Church and fired several gunshots at our Senior Pastor, Dr. Fred Winters. Pastor Winters was taken to the hospital but died of his wounds.

Please pray for Dr. Winter’s family, our two brave members who were injured when they stopped the assailant, for the assailant himself and his family, and for our church members as they deal with this tragic loss.

In this day, where uncertainty seems to abound creating an environment in which people are vulnerable in doing things they might not do otherwise, one thing is certain, we, as human beings need a foundation upon which we can live our lives. We at First Baptist Maryville, along with other Christian believers, share this conviction: that foundation is God’s Word. In the pages of the Book we call the Bible, we find the pathway for peace, hope, and a quality of living life despite what circumstances we find ourselves in.

To those who believe in the power of prayer, we covet your prayers right now.

To let this church know you are praying for them, click here to be taken to their contact site with email addresses of the staff members. Please do not email any questions or comments, only let them know in a brief message that you are praying for them.

First Baptist had an average attendance of 32 people when Pastor Winters became senior pastor in 1987 and now has about 1,200 members. He was a former president of the Illinois Baptist State Association and an adjunct professor for Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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