An Alabama church pastor in the town of Dadeville has issued a plea to Christians to “rise up and join me as we show our community that God is still in control” and “has the power to heal broken hearts and to change lives”.
He was commenting after a shooting on Saturday at a dance hall that killed four people and injured 28 others during a teenager’s birthday party.
Pastor Ben Hayes of First Baptist Church also serves as chaplain for the Dadeville Police Department and for the local high school football team.
“My heart is broken today. I stood outside of Lake Martin Hospital until 3 a.m. watching hearts break as families learned that their child had been shot -- or even worse, dead”, he wrote on the church’s social media site.
“I talked with parents, educators, students. My football players. Our pastors from First Baptist Church. No one knew what to say. Everyone was in shock”, he wrote.
“Police officers with looks of sadness on their faces. Nothing prepares you for this”.
Alabama law enforcement officers have issued a call to members of the public with information to come forward. Among those killed was a high school senior who planned to play college football and was celebrating his sister’s 16th birthday.
A community prayer vigil was held in the parking lot of the First Baptist Church for members of the 3,300 strong town. Commenting beforehand, Pastor Hayes said prayer was the answer:
“If we want the violence and evil to stop, then we must kneel in prayer and then stand and fight this battle with the weapons of our warfare”, he wrote.
“This battle cannot be won if we don't work to change the hearts and lives of our children and our youth.”
In a message after the attack, President Biden called on Congress to “require safe storage of firearms, require background checks for all gun sales, eliminate gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability, and ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.”