Lakeland Minister Who Survived Shooting Presses Forward

| July 8, 2012

Sept. 18, 2011, could have marked the end of Greater Faith Christian Center Church.

That Sunday morning, as some congregants prayed before the start of services, a man clutching a .32-caliber revolver charged into the sanctuary, sought out the church's pastor and shot him in the back of the head at close range.

The gunman then fired toward a minister-in-training, hitting him three times.

The church easily could have spiraled into dormancy after such a tragedy, with its leadership lost and members too traumatized to attend services.

Instead, the Rev. William J. Boss, who survived the attack, says the church is thriving. Attendance has risen since the shootings, Boss said, and rather than shunning any references to that dreadful day, the pastor and congregants regularly cite it as evidence of divine intervention.

"We're more on fire," Boss said, sitting in his church office on a recent morning. "We've moved to another level. We're more on fire for God."

That declaration brought on a rumble of contented laughter, a frequent occurrence when Boss talks about the church he founded in 1996.

Boss, 52, still has a bullet lodged in the back of his head and endures physical effects of the assault, including severe headaches and hearing loss. Yet he has resumed most of his pastoral duties.

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Category: Church Security

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