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Iowa police shootings spark prayer, ministry

DES MOINES, Iowa (BP) — The murders of two Des Moines-area police officers have spurred Iowa Christians to prayer and action.

Officer Justin Martin of the Urbandale (Iowa) Police Department and Sgt. Anthony Beminio of the Des Moines Police Department both were shot in their patrol vehicles in “ambush”-style attacks some two miles apart Wednesday (Nov. 2) shortly after 1 a.m., CNN reported. Police took suspect Scott Michael Greene into custody hours later.

In response to the tragedy, pastors and other believers of various denominations gathered today (Nov. 3) at a local Lutheran church to pray and discuss the future of their community, Baptist Convention of Iowa (BCI) staff members told Baptist Press. Des Moines Police Department officials and other local leaders were among the attendees.

At the BCI annual meeting in Des Moines Nov. 5, there will be “a dedicated prayer time for our law enforcement individuals and for our state and our country,” BCI President Ken Livingston told BP.

“When a tragedy of this magnitude hits close to home, I think it’s important for us to make sure we share with our people and remind them to turn to God, who is our ultimate hope,” said Livingston, pastor of First Grace Baptist Church in Sheffield, Iowa. “And we can pray for the law enforcement families and [members of] the community in general who are suffering and confused and maybe angry.”

John Shaull, a member of the BCI pastor/church support staff, told BP pastors in Des Moines all “seem to be aware of what’s taken place” and are “encouraging their church families to be in prayer for the families of the officers as well as for our community’s police departments.”

With two other Des Moines police officers killed in March by a drunk driver, a total of four local officers have died in the line of duty this year, Shaull said, noting other officers have been wounded in the line of duty.

“I’ve been in the area probably for 30 years,” Shaull said, “and I don’t ever remember a time we’ve had that many officers that have been injured or killed while on duty.”

Todd Stiles, pastor of First Family Church in Des Moines-area Ankeny, Iowa, told BP the congregation’s small groups “have been very active in ministering to each other” following the shootings, especially to two Des Moines police officers in the congregation.

Wednesday night “the wife of one [officer was] just crying to another lady in her small group,” Stiles said.

A video posted today on the church’s website and social media channels is intended to “help our church understand how to process things [and] what we can do,” Stiles said, adding he hopes the video will reach the community through sharing on social media.

Among Stiles’ emphases for Des Moines residents are that Americans must develop a “submissive posture” before authority figures like police officers and that God’s people must “mourn with those who mourn.”

“People are hurting,” Stiles said, “and the Holy Spirit empowers us to hurt with people.”