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Local Church reacts to Texas tragedy: "Your heart just breaks"

"Your heart just breaks. It always breaks when these things happen, but you feel that sense of connection," said New Hope Eugene's Lead Pastor Aaron Sutherland.

Posted: Nov 6, 2017 8:31 PM
Updated: Nov 7, 2017 6:57 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Hundreds of people attending local churches on Sunday learned of the tragic shooting in Texas during their morning service.

"Your heart just breaks. It always breaks when these things happen, but you feel that sense of connection," said New Hope Eugene's Lead Pastor Aaron Sutherland.

He said he learned of the tragedy in Texas, during the final minutes of their Sunday service.

"There was a final song going on and someone let me know the information, so at the end of service we came and let people know so we could pray. I mean, really, that is the most powerful thing we can do in those moments," said Pastor Sutherland.

He said incidents like this, whether at a church or anyplace else, always hurt. He said they have a safety team at New Hope to protect the nearly 1,200 people that attend services every Sunday.

"They're watching for folks who maybe are having a tough time or maybe seem like they don't have the best of intentions in this place," said Pastor Sutherland.

"Our church is a safe place for people to come here. We are not a soft target," said Tom Eichhorn, one of New Hope's Safety Team Co-Directors.

He tells KEZI that as a team, they do scenario training, so they're ready for anything.

"We create, with the help of actors, situations that are very difficult for our safety team members to negotiate their way through...it's base on communication and observation skills," said Eichhorn.

He said it's time well spent.

"We have in the past, people we've had talk to, and some of those people are in crisis and we've been able to help them resolve that crisis before it created a problem within the congregation," said Eichhorn.

Their work is something Pastor Sutherland said allows him to focus on his congregation.

"Knowing that they're doing that, allows us to do what we're called to do inside these doors. and it's a huge blessing to us," said Pastor Sutherland.

Eichhorn said the church sponsors safety team training for other churches who are interested in having their own team on Sundays.

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