Congregation Gathers One Week After Shooting

| September 6, 2010

Visalia – One week after their bishop was gunned down inside their church, the congregation at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on Tulare Street, came together for the first time since their leader was gunned down, taking their first step, in moving forward.

"This is a hallowed place where a man was taken down in the prime of his life and he took a bullet for all of us, he made sure everybody was out of harm's way, and he took it for our congregation," said Marla Alberstein, who attended church Sunday.

47–year–old Kenneth Ward walked into the church last Sunday, asked for their leader, then shot and killed the bishop – 40–year–old Clay Sannar.

Visalia police later shot and killed Ward.

Ward's family members say he was mentally ill.

"The tears were flowing. Julie was here with all of her family and she talked to all of us," said Alberstein.

Sannar left behind a wife and six sons.

Julie Sannar brought her whole family to church and expressed her gratitude for the strong show of support they've received.

"She thanked us, she read a scripture of how death is not the end, and they will be together again as a family," said Susan Wilson, a member of the church.

For many in the congregation, this first gathering after the tragedy was emotionally overwhelming.

"It was a big step, I could see it in the youth, some of our young women witnessed the event. Bishop Sannar would have liked us to stay the course, and be strong in our faith," said Wilson.

Afterward, many members say they walked away from Sunday's service, re–invigorated in their faith and changed.

"We realize that life is precious, and each one of us are taking into account how we treat each other. We want to be kinder. We want to be more gracious. That's really the sentiment everyone was talking about," said Alberstein.

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Category: Church Security

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