September 29, 1999

Wedgwood takes back its building by
writing words of love on sanctuary floor

___By Matt Sanders
___FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)--They wrote to God. They wrote to friends who had been killed or wounded. They wrote to the killer. They even wrote to Satan.
___In an act that was part memorial, part ministry and part therapy, many of the young people who had been in Wedgwood Baptist Church's sanctuary the night Larry Ashbrook opened fire wrote messages of hope, forgiveness and love on the once carpet-covered
A WRITTEN NOTE on the floor of the Wedgwood Baptist Church sanctuary offers forgiveness to Larry Gene Ashbrook, the gunman who entered the Wedgwood sanctuary and shot 14 people, killing seven and wounding seven others, before turning the gun on himself Sept. 15. Youth and adults who witnessed the shooting spree, as well as others, wrote condolences, memories and well-wishes on the bare concrete floors of the Wedgwood sanctuary Sept. 22, before crews laid new carpet. (BP photo by Bryan Murley/SWBTS)
concrete floors Sept. 21. Throughout the next day and night, others from the church wrote their messages.
___Some, like the widow of Shawn Brown, used Scripture.
___"I am my beloved, and my beloved is mine," Kathy Brown wrote, quoting Solomon 6:3.
___Some captured their feelings as they watched their friends die.
___"I saw your eyes, they were open. I looked at your body, I couldn't help. We will miss you for awhile. Save a spot for the Wedgies," MCS wrote to Cassandra Griffin. ("Wedgies" is the nickname members of Wedgwood Baptist Church have given to themselves.)
___Some wrote lighter messages to their friends in heaven like, "I hope you're having fun up there" and "Sing a song for me."
___Others recalled where they stood or sat or cowered when the shooting began. Some wrote to Ashbrook who killed eight, including himself and wounded seven just six days earlier, Sept. 15, during a See You At the Pole rally.
___"Larry Ashbrook, I forgive you," Jeff Nemee wrote.
___Another teenager wrote near the spot where Ashbrook committed suicide: "We don't hate you Larry Ashbrook. We hate Satan."
___Lisa Jackson wrote to Ashbrook, "I forgive you and through Christ's love toward me Ican say that I love you."
___The only harsh words were directed to Satan.
___"Satan, in the name of my sovereign Lord Jesus Christ, I rebuke you from ever passing through these doors again," wrote Eli G. "This is my Father's House. You have no place here. Amen."
___At every entrance, statements like "Satan, bite the dust" and "Satan, you can't stop us" were written. Near the entrance where Ashbrook first entered the building is a drawing of a cross.
___The new sense of commitment that many people have expressed was reflected in the writings, such as Aaron Leddy's belief that God protected him so that he could tell others about Christ.
___Sarah Hood wrote near an exit, "This is the way that I ran from this sanctuary on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 1999. Lord, please don't ever let me have to run from your house again. ... I will be a witness."
___Parents, friends and spouses added to the impromptu memorial, some thanking God for his protection.
___"Thank you, Lord, for saving my lovely wife, Nikki," wrote Jay Fannin, Wedgwood's youth minister.
___On the foyer floor where Sydney Browning died, Robin wrote, "The Father saw you fall little sparrow, then He flew you home. Make them laugh, Syd. Oh, how I'll miss you. I love you."
___The messages will soon be covered when the new carpet is installed, but they, like the memories, will forever be a part of Wedgwood Baptist Church.


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