FBC Sutherland Springs groundbreaking features Birmingham firm

FBC Sutherland Springs groundbreaking features Birmingham firm

By Jane Rodgers
Special to The Alabama Baptist

Six months after the shooting that claimed 26 lives at First Baptist Church, Sutherland Springs, Texas, some Birmingham Baptists are playing a prominent role in building the church a new facility.

“We are very excited. It has been an incredible experience for us,” said Scott Gurosky, president of Birmingham-based Myrick Gurosky & Associates (MG+A) and a member of Shades Mountain Baptist Church, Vestavia Hills.
At Sutherland Springs, he said, “we saw resolute souls and hearts ready to move forward, not back.”

The congregation is currently meeting in a modular building on the church property while the church’s former sanctuary has only been used as a heart-wrenching memorial ever since the Nov. 5, 2017, shooting. The May 5 groundbreaking for the new worship facility highlighted the congregation’s hope, however.

The building project started when San Antonio contractor Brad Beldon started a GoFundMe account to provide cash to purchase an adjacent two-acre lot to provide room for the expansion. Beldon also gathered a list of partners who have pledged materials and support.

Picking up the baton

With those in place, funds from the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and in-kind donations picked up the baton to pay for the building project, its value estimated at $3 million. NAMB chose MG+A to oversee the project.

Mike O’Kelley, the Birmingham architect who designed the Mount Laurel community in Shelby County, provided the design.

“Knowing how this is going to impact the community is great,” O’Kelley said, calling the Sutherland Springs project “very personally satisfying.”

“It’s not about us,” he said, noting that for him it was about Sutherland Springs Pastor Frank Pomeroy and “the rock that he is in the community.”

Gurosky echoed O’Kelley’s sentiments about Pomeroy, praising the pastor’s steadfastness. “He hasn’t backed down from his testimony in any of this, so it’s been very humbling to see all that,” Gurosky said.

At the groundbreaking, Pomeroy pointed everyone to Ezekiel 11, explaining that the prophet also lived in turbulent times that included the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem.

“We are not the first to experience horrific loss,” he said. He emphasized that the Church must know the “victory is ours” and that “true sanctuary” comes from a relationship with God.

But he did have a vision for their new brick-and-mortar sanctuary — he hoped it could be a lighthouse. That vision prompted him to ask the designers for a bell tower.

And he got not one, but two.

“One is a bell for the memorial; the other is a light for what God is going to do,” Pomeroy said.


Some 350–400 people assembled under a large white tent erected on the church grounds for the groundbreaking at 11 a.m. Present for the ceremony were survivors of the shooting, victims’ families, church members and local, state and national dignitaries, including Ted Cruz, U.S. Senator from Texas.

During worship and baptisms following a barbecue lunch, Kris Workman, worship leader for First, Sutherland Springs, played guitar in the praise band. Workman, who was shot point-blank in the spine last November, is wheelchair-bound with a “nearly complete” severing of his L2 vertebrae.

“My condition is not a surprise to God,” Workman told reporters. “This groundbreaking is a pretty incredible thing. It means God is still big, still in charge. A benevolent God has taken something meant for evil and turned it for His glory. This building is going to be for His glory.”