Another tragedy has struck our nation, this time at a high school in Parkland, Florida. According to reports, it’s one of the nation’s deadliest attacks at a high school. My heart dropped when I heard the news yesterday. Another community, and more families, wrecked by violence. I reached out to Pastor Eddie Bevill of Parkridge Church, which first met at the school, to learn how churches are responding.
Ed Stetzer: Tell me a little bit about the background of the church, specifically related to that facility.
Pastor Eddie Bevill: My wife and I founded Parkridge Church in 1992, and we met in the facility for about 7 years, until we were able to purchase land and build our first building, and we are now currently located about a mile or less from that school, and still have a strong relationship there.
We have several families who have students who go there because it is our local high school. We also have a few employees. I know for one, the band director is a member of our church, and maybe some others as well. As far as I know, they are all safe, and not harmed. But information is still a little sketchy on all the names. But as far as we know, we’ve heard from all of them, and they seem to be basically okay.
Ed: How are you and other pastors in the community responding to minister to the community?
Pastor Bevill: TJ McCormick is the pastor of Coastal Community Church and they happen to lead a first priority club group meeting there. And when all this went down, they actually had a couple of their staff on the campus. And so I was getting texts from TJ. He was sharing that they have some people there, and they weren’t letting anybody else in at that point, because by then law enforcement had come. So they’ve had some firsthand interaction already.
I’ve had contact from more pastors. I was in a group of close to 20 or more pastors and ministers in the area, especially in northwest Broward County, which is where we are, and it was just everybody wanting to roll up their sleeves and help in any way that they could. We had some parents of students, our property is close enough, and the way the roads were blocked, we actually had parents of students parking on our property and getting out and walking toward the school, about a mile. So they were able to make the walk over there to see if they could find their kids. We were able to minister to some of them and pray with them and encourage them. But it is going to be an ongoing thing as you can imagine for weeks and months to come.
Ed: You mentioned praying for them, ministering to them. Tell me a little bit more about that. I guess in a sense pastors turn into chaplains at moments like this. So what kind of things are you doing?
Pastor Bevill: Yeah, well, it’s all so fresh, and everything was locked down. Even at our church, we have a school that goes through 8th grade and a preschool. So we were in a full lock down mode, as were all the schools in the general area. In fact, where the suspect was arrested was literally within blocks of our church.
So it all happened right here. I think in the next two or three days, we’re going to hear more of how we are being the actual hands and feet of Christ in reaching out and touching them the best we can. Right now I think we are still in shock mode. Beginning tomorrow as the dust starts settling, I think we’ll see more and more of that.
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Source: Christianity Today