The preachers of the Santa Fe Highway 6 Ministerial Alliance offered their love Wednesday to a city in pain after the May 18 shooting at Santa Fe High School left 10 people dead and at least 13 wounded.
Families filled up the home seats at the Santa Fe Junior High School football stadium to listen to pop Christian music, favorite scriptures and prayers from their own pastors.
The small town is working its way back to normal with slow steps as it shakes off the horror of the mass shooting and takes a collective deep breath.
The Wednesday evening vigil was a step in that direction toward healing, said the Rev. Brad Drake of Dayspring Church.
Several preachers spoke, and the crowd applauded every prayer.
“You don’t have to fight the battle on your own,” said the Rev. Tim Grant, pastor of Santa Fe Family Worship Center. “We won’t turn on one another. This tragedy won’t do us in.”
As drones buzzed over the heads of television camera crews standing on the rain-soaked football field, the preachers reminded the crowd how Santa Fe pulled together during Hurricane Harvey and helped their neighbors.
“We’ve all seen how this community can stand together,” said the Rev. Kevin Garber of Saltgrass Cowboy Church.
Not only did Santa Fe residents put their pick-up trucks into service saving people, they got their horse trailers and rescued animals during Harvey, he said.
“This community needs our love,” Garber said. “We are here for you, Santa Fe.”
Small children handed out bottles of water and old men passed out messages from the American Red Cross. Friends hugged. Most people smiled, but a few couldn’t hide a profound sadness.
Pastors told the crowd to pray for John Barnes, the school officer shot Friday morning as well as all the first responders and everyone at Santa Fe Independent School District.
And pastors also told the crowd to pray for themselves.
“I am broken,” said the Rev. John Newton, pastor of First Baptist Church of Alta Loma. “I need God’s grace and mercy. I pray God brings mercy to Santa Fe and grace we don’t deserve.”