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Goodbyes said to 7 victims of Wedgwood Baptist shootings


FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Four victims of Wedgwood Baptist Church shooting were buried Saturday, Sept. 18, as friends and family said their final goodbyes.
Friends and family remembered Shawn Brown, 23, as a man who loved Jesus. Brown, a graduate of Howard Payne University, was a sixth-grade Sunday school teacher at Wedgwood and a student in Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s school of education ministries. About 1,000 people attended funeral services for Brown at Southwestern’s Truett Auditorium.
Kathy Jo Muirhead Brown, Shawn’s wife, said he had been preparing a lesson for the class describing how the Christian life is like a race. Shawn reached the finish line, she said. He “ran the race, victoriously — all the way to God’s arms.”
“Shawn was on fire for God,” said Connie Yeagley, a friend and fellow Southwestern student. “He was an on-fire young man, and he just loved God. … He was the type of person that when you were around him, you walked away with a smile.”
Susan Kimberly Jones, another Southwestern student, was remembered as someone who was ready to see Jesus. Friends and family gathered at Gambrell Street Baptist Church across the street from Southwestern Seminary to bid farewell Saturday.
“Kim would not want us to be sad,” said Stephanie Jones, Kim’s mother. “She would want us to rejoice because she is with her heavenly Father and her best friend, Jesus Christ.”
Jones, 23, graduated from Texas Christian University in December before enrolling in Southwestern, where she was pursuing a master of divinity degree.
Karen Nugent, a friend, remembered that Jones had originally planned to attend another seminary, “and God told her to come here [to Southwestern], and she was fine with that. She was completely following him and in his will.”
Justin Stegner Ray, 17, was remembered as a young man who loved sound and technology. His love for sound was one of many remembrances during a 90-minute ceremony at Westcliff United Methodist Church.
Ray was working on the sound for a band scheduled to appear at a prayer service at Wedgwood when he was shot and killed.
Friends and family members spoke during the service, and minister Ruth Huber-Rohlfs invited the congregation to take comfort in the fact “he was doing what he loved to do most” when he died.
Sydney Rochelle Browning, Wedgwood Baptist Church’s children’s choir director touched many lives while she lived, and has touched many more through her death, her family and friends were reminded in paying their final respects to the 36-year-old schoolteacher and Southwestern Seminary alum. Wedgwood senior pastor Al Meredith encouraged the 1,200 gathered to be encouraged that Browning was in a better place.
“You might have read in the paper that Sydney Browning died Wednesday night,” Meredith said. “Don’t you believe it!”
Browning was a 1991 graduate of Southwestern Seminary with a master of arts in religious education degree.
Browning’s father, Don, remembered the first solo she sang in church, “This Little Light of Mine,” with its verse which says: “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.”
“Through her death, it has shined more than we could have ever imagined,” said Browning, a 1961 Southwestern graduate with a master of arts degree in religious education.
Funeral services for the three other victims of Wednesday’s shooting spree were held Monday.
Services for Kristi Beckel, 14, were held at 10:30 a.m. at Bethesday Community Church in Haltom City, Texas.
Services for Joseph Daniel Ennis, 14, were held Monday at 3 p.m. at First Baptist Church of White Settlement, Texas.
Services for Cassandra Griffin, 14, were held at 2 p.m. Monday at Wedgwood Baptist Church.
“You need to know that these were people … and precious people,” Meredith said about the victims. “One was a … Sunday school teacher. Another was the head of the children’s choir. For years they loved her [Browning] and I loved her — [she was] a favorite soloist in the choir.
“[Kim Jones] was a precious, relatively new Christian — you never saw her but when she smiled, just starting at seminary, active in our college and now our singles department. … These were people, and families, and hearts are broken.”
The seven victims were killed when 47-year-old Larry Gene Ashbrook entered the Wedgwood sanctuary on Wednesday night, Sept. 15, and opened fire into a crowd of about 150 to 200 teenagers and adults during a “See You at the Pole” prayer concert.

Murley is a newswriter at Southwestern Seminary.