FL governor, press surprise church

Houses of worship see increases in attendance following school shooting.

February 19, 2018

A youth group leader at St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church in Coral Springs was amongst those killed.
Credit: St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church's Facebook page

First Church, a United Methodist community, in Coral Springs, FL, had planned for more people than usually attend Sunday services but church leaders were surprised when FL Gov. Rick Scott. his security detail, and dozens of members of the national and international press corps showed up.

The Rev. Dr. Vance Rains, pastor of the church, wrote in his blog Monday that people had asked him if he had worked extra hard on the sermon considering the extra special audience. "I was preaching for the person who's hurting the most, and needed to find God this morning," he replied.

Houses of Worship across the region adapted worship services to meet the needs of residents following last week's shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Representatives of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) attended a Friday night service coordinated by Presbytery of Tropical Florida and attended Sunday worship. The PDA team has been trained to respond to incidents of public violence.

In other houses of worship, funerals have begun for the 17 students and staff killed in Wednesday's massacre.

Police throughout the region stayed busy last week investigating dozens of threats on other schools. All of the threats have been found to be unfounded but two people were arrested, one for sending a murder threat via social media.

Many of the Douglas survivors have announced their intent to work to change gun laws with the hope of preventing future school shootings. On Tuesday afternoon, about 100 students from the school plan to travel to the state capital and meet with the Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and state legislators to push for gun law changes.

Students are also organizing a march on Washington and in other locations around the country on March 24.

The gunman who opened fire on students with an assault rifle just before classes were dismissed has been identified as a former student, who at just 19 years old, owned a dozen rifles.

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