Members of local Baptist church react to Texas mass shooting

Law enforcement officers work in front of the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs after a fatal shooting, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017, in Sutherland Springs, Texas. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A tragedy in Texas has the local faith community turning to a higher power.

Members of Idlewild Baptist Church in Hillsborough County are shocked the shooting took place inside a church where they typically feel safe.

“[It is a] great church [with] lots of stuff for the kids,” said Donna Whitmore, who has been a member of the Idlewild Baptist Church for five years.

For Whitemore, the shooting hits home because she lived in Texas for 18 years.

“The article that I first saw did not have the city,” Whitmore said. “So I was like you know pulled at the gut. I was worried about where it was.”

Sunday’s tragedy unfolded at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, a small community outside of San Antonio.

“I was from the Dallas area,” said Whitmore. “It is still heartbreaking to think you are sitting in the middle of the service and someone comes in and does that.”

Janice Yaslowitz had to address some concerns about safety when she taught a bible study class at Idlewild Sunday night.

“The people in the class were talking about, you know, is there any chance that someone could come in here and someone, the teacher, had mentioned it is well protected. They have a lot of security around,” said Yaslowitz.

Idlewild’s executive pastor said deputies with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office are visible at every service.

“I know there are security people in the worship center that protect us,” said Whitmore.

He also said the volunteers and employees who welcome members to the church are trained to recognize and handle any trouble.

“I do feel safe and secure,” said Whitmore. “I know that God is going to protect us and God is meant for us to be here for fellowship and worship together and that is not going to stop me from coming here.”

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