A retired Baptist pastor in Uvalde, Julián Moreno, stepped up to the pulpit last week to console his congregation during the most soul-jarring event in the history of this community.
He did so as he worked through his own grief. Pastor Moreno’s great-granddaughter was among the children slaughtered in the school massacre.
The current pastor, Carlos Contreras, called a special service on Thursday at Uvalde’s Primera Iglesia Bautista, the city’s 113-year-old bilingual church.
“Buenas tardes, hermanos. Good evening, everyone,” he begins. “We are here because of what has happened this week. We have two special young girls that attended our church, who we will miss and absolutely love.”
The bright smiling faces of the girls are projected on the screen behind him: 10-year-old Alexandria “Lexi” Rubio, who’s holding her honor roll certificate, and 9-year-old Eliahna “Ellie” García, in her basketball jersey. They both perished on Tuesday in the school shooting.
But what people mainly came for was to hear from their former pastor, Julián Moreno, 80 years old, who retired last year after 50 years of preaching, marrying, baptizing and burying. Lexi Rubio was his great-granddaughter.
A dignified man in dark clothes, a paisley tie, and a stoic expression steps onto the blue-carpeted altar.
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SOURCE: NPR, John Burnett and Marisa Penaloza