Killeen church bends knees in prayer for Fort Hood

KILLEEN—The congregation of Skyline Baptist Church in Killeen, near the sprawling Fort Hood Army post, has seen tragedy before.

On Wednesday night, after a lone gunman at Fort Hood killed three people and injured 16 others before turning the gun on himself, the church gathered like they always do midweek—albeit with a few members missing from a base-wide security lockdown—and bent their knees on the church auditorium carpet in prayer.

Army Maj. Kevin Thompson, a signal officer at Fort Hood, serves as co-interim pastor of the church along with an Army chaplain, also from the base, and left the post about 20 minutes before the shooting—reportedly at the hands of a soldier being evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Once at the church, a 25-minute prayer service, heavily focused on the shootings, preceded the Wednesday night Bible study. 

“It was kind of conversational and people were telling details of conversations they had with those they knew on the base or the latest of what they had heard on the news,” Thompson told the TEXAN. “Generally we were praying for the victims and their families and that somehow God would find a way to prompt people to call out to him through this incident, no matter how horrific.” 

Thompson said the prayer time, as usual, involved groups of two or three gathered together, pleading in prayer.

Church members said they knew of no one from the church who was shot, but the unit of one of the church members was directly affected by the tragedy. 

“There’s going to be a lot of anguish, particularly this time,” Thompson said, alluding to past incidents at the base, including the 2009 massacre by Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan, who is awaiting the death penalty for killing 13 people and injuring 32. 

“From a spiritual standpoint, pray that people realize that you never know when your time is,” Thompson added, “and that they would trust Christ before it is too late.” 

Elaine Clark, a longtime Killeen resident and former Killeen school counselor, was at her usual post—teaching AWANA to a meager children’s crowd at Skyline. 

About half of the children and adult volunteers were absent because they live on Fort Hood—home to more than 45,000 soldiers, families and personnel—and weren’t able to leave, she said. 

“Children have questions and they need to be answered,” said Clark, who noted that last night, appropriately, they were studying and memorizing 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 

Explaining to a young girl the importance of knowing God is always in control, even in danger, the girl responded to Clark: “You know God sent Jesus to die for that man,” the girl said of the shooter. 

“That just spoke to my heart how God speaks even to these little ones in these terrible times,” Clark said. 

A Facebook user, Clark said she has a community of friends she’s in frequent contact with who have ties to Killeen and Fort Hood, and that prayers are being sent up for the survivors, the families of the victims, and for the family of the shooter. 

“That family has a lot to go through and I’m sure they will have questions that will never be answered.” 

She related the fear she said pervades the base in times like these to her own experience of surviving a nighttime intruder who was chased out of the family home years ago by her husband. 

“It was a long time before we felt safe again,” she said. “Considering Fort Hood is a home for so many people, it makes you question that you’ll ever be safe again.” 

Clark said prayers are needed for children in the Killeen-Fort Hood area, that “they would cross paths with people who will share Jesus with them and that God loves them and he is with us even when we are afraid. … They don’t have to be afraid with Jesus as their friend.” 

Thompson said he had not returned to the base yet, but that prior to the shooting morale had been high in his unit because they had rated well in a recent field exercise.  

The day following the shooting, “Understandably, the people I have talked to, there is a somber tone in their voice,” he said.


TEXAN Correspondent
Jerry Pierce
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