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Church reaches out to congregation devastated by Alaska Airlines crash

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MONROE, Wash. (BP)–When pastor Jim Shiner learned two local ministers were among those killed in the crash of Alaska Airlines Flight 261, he couldn’t believe the news. Shiner, pastor of First Baptist Church, Monroe, Wash., is located just one mile down the road from The Rock Church Northwest, a charismatic church led by Joe and Linda Knight.

The Knights were among the 88 people killed when the Alaska Airlines jet plunged into the Pacific Ocean off the California coast Jan. 31.

“The church is just really devastated,” Shiner said. “Joe and Linda served as co-pastors, so they actually lost two ministers.”

Shiner said a group of ministers met Feb. 1 to pray for the Knights’ surviving children as well as the church. “We specifically talked about ways to minister to that congregation,” he said. “There are only 26 churches in Monroe, so we frequently work together on things.”

Shiner said he has offered to provide grief counseling for members of The Rock Church. “The church was going through a transition when all this happened. They were preparing to relocate and this has been a terrible tragedy for them,” Shiner said.

“The biggest thing we can do is to lift them up in prayer, especially the leadership of the church,” Shiner said.

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Shiner noted that the plane crash has had a somber impact on the community, even among ministers. “When something like this happens to a fellow pastor, it hits real close to home,” he said.

Search and rescue efforts continued off the California coast and the National Transportation Safety Board hopes to learn what happened aboard the flight when they listen to audiotapes made between the pilots of the aircraft and an airline maintenance crew in Seattle.