Pastor forgives gunman who stormed church - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Pastor forgives gunman who stormed church

South Side Free Will Baptist Church is located on Upper Valley Falls Road in Boiling Springs. (Mar. 25, 2012/FOX Carolina) South Side Free Will Baptist Church is located on Upper Valley Falls Road in Boiling Springs. (Mar. 25, 2012/FOX Carolina)
From left to right: Jesse and Angela Gates (Spartanburg Co. Sheriff's Office) From left to right: Jesse and Angela Gates (Spartanburg Co. Sheriff's Office)

The congregation at South Side Free Will Baptist is small, but loyal. And they're thankful they're worshipping again at the church after a gunman stormed inside Sunday morning, threatening the parishioners.

"We are not going to let the devil defeat us from doing what God called us to do." said Pastor Henry Guyton. "We come together to praise the Lord tonight, and we're going to do that."

Guyton said many of the people there Wednesday night were in Sunday morning's service.  

They said they saw the rage in 38-year-old Jesse Gates' eyes as he wielded a shotgun inside the church.  The congregation was eventually able to subdue him, and Gates is now in jail.

And now, the church is forgiving Gates.

"(What happened) was against the Lord, that's what he's done. And he will have to answer for that," said Guyton. When asked if he forgives him, he answers, "Oh yeah.  I pray for him, I pray for his family."

They may forgive, but they certainly won't forget.  

Guyton is hoping what happened Sunday morning doesn't deter anyone else from the church.

"We're going to go on with the services," he said. "It might take some a little while to get over it, but we are going to go on, we're not going to let the devil hinder it."

When Gates was arrested, he said that he held up the church because he asked for help and the church didn't provide it. Guyton said that's not true, telling us that if Gates had asked for help, he would've gotten it from the church.

Gates, along with his sister 34-year-old Angela Gates, were both arrested and charged in connection with the incident.

Copyright 2012 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation).  All Rights Reserved.

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