Churches gather for worship grieving slain pastor - Word&Way

Churches gather for worship grieving slain pastor

ARLINGTON, Texas (ABP) — Two Baptist churches in Texas gathered with heavy hearts for worship Sunday, March 6, grieving the murder of a young pastor and the attack of a 67-year-old ministry assistant in an apparent robbery the week before.

Dennis Wiles, pastor of First Baptist Church, Arlington, Texas, remembered Clint Dobson as "a wonderful young man" who was "doing exactly what he was called to do" when he met his death inside North Pointe Baptist Church, a satellite of First Baptist.

"Today is not Clint's funeral," Wiles reminded worshippers at First Baptist Church. "We are going to have Clint's funeral on Wednesday."

"Clint would not want this to be his funeral," Wiles said. "This is the Lord's Day."

After the service Wiles preached the Sunday morning service at North Pointe, formerly known as Brown Boulevard Baptist Church, which was struggling until First Baptist Church decided to intervene with financial support, eventually calling Dobson as pastor.

Wiles said he first met Dobson in a preaching class he taught at Baylor University's Truett Theological Seminary. Wiles said he was immediately drawn to Dobson's "gentle demeanor," his "pastoral presence" and preaching skill.

Wiles said he even once told Dobson that if the opportunity should ever arise, he would like for them to work together more closely. Wiles said he had no idea at the time how closely intertwined their lives would become until it became time to select a pastor for the mission church.

"When we felt like it was time to bring someone, Clint was the young man that we just felt drawn to, and he felt drawn to us," Wiles said. "And I would submit to you that he was the perfect person to come and lead this congregation."

Family members including Dobson's wife, Laura, were in attendance at North Pointe's Sunday service, along with loved ones of Judy Elliott, the attacked ministry assistant whose injuries were at first considered life-threatening but now is expected to survive.

"What I would say to you is, 'We're going to do what God's people have done for centuries," Wiles said early in the service at Dobson's church. "We are going to turn to the Word of God for hope, for a word of encouragement."

Both services were streamed on the First Baptist Church website.

On Saturday police arrested Steven Lawayne Nelson, 24, a convicted felon suspected in the crime. He was charged with capital murder. Police said they had recovered Elliott's car that was stolen during the incident. Investigators believe robbery was the motive, because items including credit cards were missing from the church in addition to the vehicle.

Investigators initially refused to disclose Dobson's cause of death. Officials said Monday he was suffocated with a plastic bag. Police also have identified a second man described as a "person of interest."

Dobson's funeral is scheduled at 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 9, at First Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas. In lieu of flowers the family requests contributions to a memorial fund established in his name at George W. Truett Theological Seminary or Living Water International, a Christian ministry based in Houston that provides clean drinking water to those in need.

Dobson had been pastor at North Pointe Baptist Church since June 2008. While in seminary he was pastor of Purmela Baptist Church in Purmela, Texas. In 2008 Truett Seminary named him student preacher of the year.

A Facebook group was set up to post  prayers, encouragement and condolences to the people of NorthPointe and affected families.


Bob Allen is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press. George Henson of the Baptist Standard contributed to this story.

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