SAN ANTONIO - A local pastor presented a challenge to San Antonio: He wants everyone to be present in their places of worship this weekend like never before.
In a city-wide prayer service Wednesday night at Community Bible Church, hundreds heard that message.
The lead pastor of Community Bible Church, Dr. Ed Newton, encouraged everyone to show benevolence and kindness in the face of hatred. But most of all, he told people at the prayer service to not let fear prevent them from going to their place of worship.
"There's a resolve in this city and tonight is a demonstration," Dr. Newton said. "Let the whole world know that the faith community in San Antonio stands strong and tonight will be a microcosm of many gatherings that will take place across the city."
The city-wide prayer service established a reminder that the community can do more together.
"There is a tremendous level of fear amongst people in our community, especially coming to a public gathering, a place of worship," Dr. Newton said. "What we want to say in these days, is in the midst of fear, if we choose not to be a part of our places of worship, then evil wins."
District Attorney Nico LaHood, SAPD Chief William McManus, and SAFD Chief Charles Hood offered words of hope and encouragement at the prayer service, after what's been a rough, tiring, trying year for first responders.
"We just have to be aware," Chief McManus said. "Do not change your lifestyle because of these incidents."
"It is time for the church, big 'C,' church, to make us relevant again," LaHood said.
"We must maintain our humanity because if we don't, evil is going to win," Chief Hood said.
"We want to tell [our first responders and city leaders] we are so thankful for them," Dr. Newton said. "They are truly the heroes in our city. We want them to know we're very proud of how they responded in light of this tragedy and how they continue to respond, especially our medical staff in our city, they've been resilient in these days."
So when those who are grieving, hurting, or have questions and seek help in a place of worship, Dr. Newton calls on all church members to be there waiting.
"They'll find bold, courageous people, not with all the answers, but with a God who does," Dr. Newton said. "They'll see us walk in bravery much like the people of Sutherland Springs."
Chief Hood said that the San Antonio Fire Department passed out "Stop the Bleed" boxes across the city, including Community Bible Church.
"These are boxes that you're gonna see in buildings that have tourniquets, they have dressings, they have gloves," Chief Hood explained. "They have all the things that someone can potentially stop a bleed, because with the velocity of these bullets, you could get hit in the ankle or the knee and bleed to death."
Dr. Newton also told attendees of the prayer service that CBC has safety protocols in place, with up to 20 officers on the property and surveillance cameras to give congregants comfort that while they're in this place of worship, the church has their best interests in mind.
"We've bolstered the ones that we've had even prior to this tragic event," Dr. Newton noted. "We're looking at every loophole possible, if there is one."
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