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Killeen Pastors Remembered at First Sunday Service Since Crash - 12 News KBMT and K-JAC. News, Weather and Sports for SE Texas

Killeen Pastors Remembered at First Sunday Service Since Crash

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A lot of grief, But even more celebration Sunday at Grace Christian Center in Killeen.

It was three days ago three pastors at the church lost their lives in a car accident near Pflugerville.

The congregation was out in full force Sunday morning, not mourning their deaths, but celebrating their lives.

One member perhaps described it best: "Real people with a real purpose."

"Today we're crying, worshipping and celebrating," said Shelly Val Mores.

She and young believers Hannah Thompson, Maria Williams, and Elleana Roseburgh were there for the early service, remembering the pastors who meant so much to them.

Pastor Terry Whitley, one of the church's founders, who loved central Texas unconditionally.

"He himself would drive around the community praying for every member of the community," Shelly said.

Terry's wife, Pastor Jan, with a laugh that made others laugh.

"She was bold enough and strong enough, and grounded in god enough that she could laugh in the face of her own earthly mess-ups."

Pastor Steve Timmerman, who gave the kids dollars, donuts, candy; the Whitleys right-hand man.

"He was always faithful to other people," Hannah remembered. "He would just, like, pick people up from the airport, and so giving, and he didn't expect anything back."

That's what he was doing Thursday night: picking the Whitleys up from Austin after a mission trip, when a tire blew out.

All three died in the crash.

"It's really hard to believe that he ended up dying and they died," Elleana said, "but they're still here. They're just in a better place now."

Sunday's service, the first since the accident, was a celebration of their lives.

They've been called home.

"At that moment that their breath left their body, they were immediately with god," Shelly said.

"I really know that they're just always going to be there for everyone, even if they're not physically here," said Maria. "But they're always here in our hearts."

Always at the church, inside the walls that they brought meaning to.

"It's our intention to continue to walk in that legacy that they've left," said Shelly.

The church asked that we not take our cameras into the sanctuary Sunday morning, but from the lobby we could hear parts of the sermon from Dr. Earl Johnson.

Most striking was the laughter that came with celebrating the lives of the three pastors.

James Webb, JB to his friends, was still processing the tragedy. He had one word to describe it.

"Surreal. Like, it still hasn't set in all the way," he said.

JB's been in the Army 13 years. He's served five tours in Iraq and Afghanistan in the 82nd, the same unit Pastor Steve served in.

"As soldiers, we expect it overseas," he said. "We don't expect it here, so it takes kind of a while to process and deal with it."

Pastor Steve married JB and his wife, baptized his son. Pastors Terry and Jan were always there to talk.

"Today was not a grieving, it was a celebration," said church member Barbara Cline. "We know where they're at."

Many of the people walking through the sliding doors had smiles on their faces, a reflection not only of how the pastors preached, but how they lived.

"They were all full of life and jokes," said Rhonda Watson, a church member since 1996. "Couldn't have asked for a better place to be blessed and witness every Sunday," added Kenneth Watson.

"They've always helped keep me on the right path, you know, to stay in God's light," Natasha Moody, who drove from her new home in Waynesville, Mo., to be with her mother in the church where she grew up.

It's a light that continues to shine, just now with someone else flipping the switch.

"We'll have some sorrow, we have tears because we're normal," Cline said, "but we go on, and this church will go on."

"We're going to carry on their vision," said JB. "They were the shepherds, and the shepherds got called home, but that doesn't mean the work stops."

And neither does the celebration of those shepherds' lives.

There will be a memorial service for the Whitleys at the Killeen Civic Center Wednesday at 2 p.m.

Then from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, there will be a visitation for Pastor Steve Timmerman, followed Thursday by his funeral at noon, both at the Grace Christian Center.

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