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Texas church mourns loss of 13 members in bus tragedy


NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas — “Death could not hold Him,” proclaims the website of First Baptist Church of New Braunfels, Texas. The bright Easter message of Jesus; resurrection sits just above the tragic announcement of 13 members who died March 29 in a bus accident.

“When we’re absent from the body, we’re present with the Lord,” First Baptist New Braunfels pastor Brad McLean told San Antonio CBS affiliate KENS5 News hours after the crash. “We know that their families are going to be hurting and our church family is going to be hurting.”

McLean cancelled Wednesday evening services and opened the sanctuary for prayer after the members of the senior choir were killed when a pickup truck crossed the center lane in a curve, state troopers said, and struck the bus head-on on Highway 83 in Concan around 2 p.m. The truck driver and one church bus passenger survived and are hospitalized.

The senior choir members, all between the ages of 61 and 87, were returning from an annual retreat at Alto Frio Baptist Encampment in Leakey. All but one of the fatalities occurred at the site of the crash; the other, hours later at the hospital.

Among Southern Baptists extending sympathy is Jim Richards, executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

“Our hearts are broken as we pray for the families who lost loved ones,” Richards told the Southern Baptist TEXAN. “Because of Jesus, the precious saints who left this earth shed the confines of the flesh to enter the glorious presence of our Lord. We stand with the pastor and church in constant prayer.”

Frank Page, Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee president and CEO, also responded.

“Our hearts are broken over the horrendous accident which took the lives of so many members of First Baptist Church of New Braunfels, Texas,” Page told BP. “Our prayers are with the families, the church and the pastor as he seeks to minister God's grace.” (BP)

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