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A Random Act of Violence

How one church is healing from congregational trauma.

On March 8, 2009, a gunman entered the sanctuary at First Baptist Church in Maryville, Illinois, with a .45 caliber Glock pistol. He walked up the center aisle and stopped not far from the stage.

Pastor Fred Winters was in the early moments of his sermon. He looked at the man standing in the aisle and asked, "May I help you?"

At that moment the stranger removed a church bulletin covering the gun and began shooting. The first shot hit Pastor Winters's Bible, shredding it into what people perceived as confetti. The reality of what was happening didn't register with anyone yet, in fact some later commented they thought it was a drama sketch.

Pastor Winters yelled, "It's real, this is real!" and moved toward the side of the stage.

The second and third shots each missed Pastor Winters. He jumped off the stage toward the gunman and grabbed the gun. It was there the fourth and final shot hit the pastor in the chest, piercing his heart and killing him.

The gun jammed during the struggle, which allowed ...

May/June
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