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10/8/97 Minister’s murder prior to P.K. stirs congregation to reach out

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)–Members of Centercrest Baptist Church, Birmingham, Ala., held a “service of love” Monday, Oct. 6, in memory of staff member Brian Tribble, 36, who apparently was shot by a burglar after he arrived sometime after 1 a.m. Friday, Oct. 3, at the church in order to leave with a group of men for the Promise Keepers rally in Washington.
Tribble had been the church’s assistant pastor for music and education for seven years. His body was discovered when others arrived at the church about 1:30.
News of Tribble’s violent death at the church became known across the United States with media coverage of the Promise Keepers rally.
On Sunday morning after the shooting, members of the congregation expressed their feelings by writing “Dear Brian, I’ll never forget …” cards distributed during Bible study classes.
One member wrote, “I’ll never forget the glow of God shining through your face whenever you were singing.” Another recalled “the awesome times that we spent in the prisons ministering to the inmates. They loved you.” A member pointed out “the love you showed for everyone and our own Lord and Savior. I remember you talking about Heaven and saying (with tears in your eyes) ‘I just can’t wait!’ ”
Bob Curlee, Centercrest’s pastor for 25 years, said when he was called about Tribble’s death “my heart broke as did every man, woman, youth, child of our church.”
“But we are thankful that we have a God who is the Promise Keeper, and we are sustained by knowing that (Brian) is in paradise with our Lord and by the comforting presence of his Holy Spirit and the hugs and love we receive from all other members of our church and hundreds of churches and pastors who reached to us,” Curlee said.
The pastor voiced prayer “that this will motivate us as the body of Christ to reach out to minister to and evangelize the kind of mixed-up, lost youth that would perform such a tragic deed.”
Curlee recounted Tribble had joined Centercrest “as a hyper teenager, grew into an unbelievable musician and matured into an excellent church leader.”
Tribble was “an angel without a halo, a preacher without proper credentials, a music director who couldn’t read music, a worker with youth who never grew up,” Curlee said.
“Yet when he sang, the heavenly choirs paused to listen. When he finished a song, there was the applause of men and the rustling of angel wings. He grew up singing in nightclubs and starred at Opryland, but when he turned his talents over to the Lord, hundreds, yea thousands, were blessed.”
Sue Curlee, the pastor’s wife, said of Tribble: “He had a big time at whatever he did. He wanted to do everything! He was a brilliant person who had ideas clicking every minute!”
Stacy Reed, minister to youth at Centercrest and a longtime friend of Tribble, said he was first overcome by the senselessness of Tribble’s violent death. However, he said he was able to understand later God could bring good out of such a terrible situation.
“God’s providence is so great!” Reed said. He noted if Tribble had died in an automobile accident or died on another day, his life and his love for God would have not been made known to such a large number of people. “We have heard from thousands and thousands of people across the country,” Reed said.
He pointed out many radio commentators had told about Tribble in the last few days. “Even Paul Harvey did a thing on it,” he said.
Reed noted he and Tribble had been talking about death just a couple of weeks earlier. He said Tribble had hoped his death would be sudden, not lingering, but he had wondered what would happen to his wife and children. Reed noted Tribble said funerals should be times of celebration.
“He didn’t want to be thought of as a saint. He was very human. But his ‘flaws’ were what endeared him to everybody.
“He was a big kid,” Reed said. “The child in him appealed to the child in everybody.”
Reed added, “As a result of Brian’s death, the rest of us will have to pick up the slack.”
He noted Tribble’s influence also was felt at United Airlines, where he worked as a ticket clerk on a late shift, and at Erwin High School, his alma mater, where he was announcer at the football games. At a Friday afternoon pep rally Oct. 3, Erwin principal Byron Campbell told students although Tribble would not be able to attend the giant Promise Keepers rally in Washington, he had gone to be with the ultimate Promise Keeper.
In lieu of flowers, the family had suggested memorials be made to Centercrest Baptist Church. However, dozens of floral arrangements lined the walls of the worship center at Centercrest for the memorial service. One heart-shaped arrangement reminded those attending about Tribble’s special appreciation for Promise Keepers. The red, white and blue arrangement was placed immediately behind the casket. On it were written two large letters, “PK.”
Survivors include Tribble’s wife, Roxanne Bailey Tribble of Clay, Ala.; three daughters, Katelyn, 7, McKinley, 3, and Bailey, 6 months, and a son, Jake Scott, 2. A trust fund has been set up for the children at SouthTrust Bank in Birmingham.

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  • Johnie Sentell