A message of peace, prayer and change from local leaders of Christian faith

In times like this, people look to faith for answers.

EAST LONGMEADOW, Mass. (WWLP) – After any tragedy, people look to faith for answers. 22News spoke with leaders of the Christian faith in western Massachusetts following the deadly shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

“Men, women and even little children. It’s hard to hear that when we have the same thing here.”

First Baptist Church of East Longmeadow Pastor Ethan Johnston couldn’t help but wonder, what if? It was a church of his same Christian denomination that witnessed a house of horror in their house of worship on the holiest day of the week.

‘Nearly everyone’ in church hurt or killed; victims range from baby to 77 years old

Twenty-six people were killed, many of them children, and at least 20 others were hurt when a gunman started shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas during Sunday services. The youngest killed was reportedly just an 18-month-old baby.

“It’s very sad to hear, but we have hope that God knows and He cares and He loves those people as He loves all people,” Pastor Johnston told 22News.

This was the deadliest, but not the first shooting at a place of worship in the United States. That prompted the First Baptist Church of East Longmeadow to come up with a boosted security plan to make sure their community stayed safe.

Bishop Mitchell Rozanski of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield said the issue isn’t where we gather in large places, like churches, but gun violence. He said first, members of the faithful should pray for peace and the families of those affected by this tragedy. Second, he said, is to “Really reflect as a country on where our freedom lies if we don’t even have the freedom to live, the freedom to go to a church to worship, without going without some fear.” Bishop Rozanski added, “We need to reflect on the gun violence in our country.” He said far too often, mass shootings are talked about and then quickly forgotten without any action done or changes made.

Until then, he and other religious leaders will turn to their faith and pray for a world of peace.