IL Church Continues after Pastor's Murder

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The First Baptist Church in Maryville, Ill., held its first service since its pastor was shot to death Sunday, March 7.

Pastor Fred Winters was gunned down when a 27-year-old man walked down the center aisle during his sermon, exchanged words, and opened fire.

Some members had expressed fear about returning, so the church printed up bumper stickers that said "Unafraid."

Church members asked for Al Meredith, a Fort Worth, Texas pastor who in 1999, witnessed a stranger walk into his church and gun down 14 members, to address the congregration.

"We knew what his heart was. We knew that he'd been through it," Derek Bishop, Maryville First Baptist member, said. "We knew that he could pray for us differently than somebody else could pray for us."

"These people are without a shepherd and that's new ground," Pastor Meredith said. "That's going to be hard and if this church makes it, it will be the grace of God."

Meredith said church members may never get over what happened last week, but they should use this tragedy for spiritual outreach.

"I have images in my mind that I know will never go away, but I will get over it," Keith Melton, Maryville First Baptist member, said. "The images will be there, but I will continue."

Meanwhile, Pastor Fred Winters widow says she and her daughters are praying for the man accused of gunning down her husband.

Terry Sedlacek is charged with first-degree murder in the death of the Rev. Fred Winters. He has pleaded not guilty. A preliminary hearing is set for March 27.

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