LAKELAND, Fla. -- Pastor William Boss wants to use faith to help his congregation cope with the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. At his church, the Greater Faith Christian Center Church in Lakeland, they have personal experience with tragedy from gun violence.
"I begin to pray for the families of those children," Boss said, "and also for the soul of the young man that took the lives of those children."
Just like his church, Pastor Boss hopes a school would be a safe space for learning. The news from Newtown horrified him.
"My heart felt the sorrow, and certainly from my personal experience, and I also felt the sentiment and the tragedy of being in a position of minding your own business and someone invading your territory," he said.
That's what happened at Greater Faith last September. Polk County detectives say it was Jeremiah Fogle, one of the church's former deacons, who killed his wife in their home, then walked into the church's sanctuary with a revolver and shot Pastor Boss in the back of the head as he kneeled in prayer. Co-Pastor Carl Stewart was shot three times. Five months after the shooting, he was found dead in his home.
"The perspective that tragedy gave us in terms of security, just being a little more conscientious of those persons around us, and certainly putting proper security in its rightful place," Boss said.
Everyone who walks through the doors is now captured on camera. Ministers keep a watchful eye. They want worshippers to feel safe.
The tragedy that struck within those walls compels Pastor Boss to give comfort and counsel in the wake of the Newtown tragedy.
"This is going to be a long term healing process and I do believe that, through Christ, the healing will occur," he said. "I was a victim, but God fortunately, by his grace and by his mercy, enabled me to stand here today saying that we can make it."
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