Maryville, IL – Thousands of mourners packed the sanctuary and overflow rooms at the First Baptist Church of Maryville Friday to say goodbye to a beloved pastor who had served them for 20 years.
A gunman shot and killed the Reverend Fred Winters in the middle of his sermon on Sunday. But speaker after speaker cited what they called an "act of evil" as the reason to continue the pastor's work.
Adam Cruise was an associate of Winters's for four years, and now leads his own church. Cruise delivered his eulogy wearing the microphone his mentor was wearing when he was shot.
"Don't let this be a time of defeat. Don't let this be a time of discouragement, don't let this be a time of surrender," Cruise said. "He would say, the mission is still on."
Cindy Winters met the man who would become her husband in 1984, when she was 14. She says although Fred grew old alongside her, he never grew up.
"How many pastors do you know plan annual churchwide events called Sack the Pastor, which is our flag football thing, and Splat the Pastor, which is our, paintball event?" she asked, while also recalling the neighborhood children who used to ask her husband to come out and play.
The gunman, 27-year-old Terry Sedlacek, is charged with murder and aggravated battery in Winters's death. He has been released from the hospital - and will return to Illinois to face trial