MADISONVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Two unrelated murders of Baptist pastors in Tennessee and Texas have left friends, families members and church members in shock and disbelief.
In Tennessee, Darrell Franklin, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Madisonville, was killed between 2-2:30 p.m. on March 2 at his business, Fay Innovative Waste Solutions, in Athens. According to news reports, he allegedly was shot and killed by Darrell Hester, an employee of the company who then killed himself. Police are calling the incident a murder/suicide, according to news accounts. Franklin was bivocational.
“I can’t hardly believe it,” Steven McDonald, pastor of Big Creek Baptist Church in Madisonville and moderator of the Sweetwater Baptist Association, told Tennessee’s Baptist and Reflector newsjournal. “It is almost surreal.”
McDonald described Franklin as an outstanding person who would help anyone. Franklin’s church was affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention.
“He had a heart for his congregation and for seeing people come to the Lord,” McDonald said. “He was a soul-winner.”
Lon Shoopman, pastor of First Baptist Church in Madisonville, knew Franklin. “He was a gentle, caring man and an effective pastor,” Shoopman said.
In Texas, Clint Dobson, pastor of Arlington’s NorthPointe Baptist Church, was killed and his ministry assistant, Judy Elliott, critically injured March 3. NorthPointe is a satellite campus of First Baptist Church in Arlington. Robbery could have been a motive: Some items, including a vehicle, were missing, the Associated Press reported. Police are searching for the murderer.
“We are shocked,” Dennis Wiles, executive pastor for First Baptist Church of Arlington, told The Dallas Morning News. “Clint was a vibrant, young man that I respected as a colleague and admired as a friend.”
Police said the murderer may have taken Elliott’s car, a cream-colored, four-door 2007 Mitsubishi Galant with Texas license plate DFR 352, the Morning News reported.
“It’s a place of worship,” Kenneth Lemuel, who lives near the church, told the Morning News. “You would never expect something like that to happen here.”
FBC Arlington is affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Southern Baptist Convention.
Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press, with reporting by Lonnie Wilkey, editor of the Baptist and Reflector, online at www.tnbaptist.org/BRNews.asp.