Pastor: ‘When we’re absent from the body, we’re present with the Lord.’
NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas (BP) — "Death could not hold Him," proclaims the website of First Baptist Church of New Braunfels, Texas. The bright Easter message of Jesus' resurrection sits just above the tragic announcement of 13 members who died Wednesday (March 29) in a bus accident.
“When we’re absent from the body, we're present with the Lord," First Baptist New Braunfels pastor Brad McLean told San Antonio CBS affiliate KENS5 News hours after the crash. "We know that their families are going to be hurting and our church family is going to be hurting."
McLean cancelled Wednesday evening services and opened the sanctuary for prayer after the members of the senior choir were killed when a pickup truck crossed the center lane in a curve, state troopers said, and struck the bus head-on on Highway 83 in Concan around 2 p.m. The bus driver and one church bus passenger survived and are hospitalized.
"We're just trying to be very respectful and provide a place for our church family to come together, to cry with other," McLean said of the evening prayer gathering, "you know, to hug each other and pray with each other."
The senior choir members, all between the ages of 61 and 87, were returning from an annual retreat at Alto Frio Baptist Encampment in Leakey when the accident occurred on Highway 83 near Garner State Park in Concan. All but one of the fatalities occurred at the site of the crash; the other, hours later at the hospital.
Many local and area community members and church congregants gathered at the church last night, First Baptist student pastor Michael Van Gorp told Baptist Press.
"It was a great moment to be able to go through that moment with fellow believers, …