ODESSA, Texas — Connection Christian Church hosted a drive-in community prayer service to honor and grieve those who were lost and injured in last year's mobile mass shooting. However, it wasn't only to grieve but also to heal.
The service only lasted about 30 minutes but the impact was undeniable. People from several different congregations had a hand in putting the service together as well as coming together in prayer.
Although the events of last year cannot be reversed or erased, people are joining together to keep those events from defining them.
"There is power when you find purpose for your pain and coming together helps us to find our voices as a community and say we will not let this define us. We will let caring for each other define us," Dawn Weaks, pastor of Connection Christian Church said.
Caring for each other, along with unity are some of the main takeaways Weaks wants to come out of this.
"We have strength and peace when we come together. When we come together in prayer, we’re coming together to mourn, to pray for families directly affected, to honor our first responders and medical team and to be one across all different dividing lines, to be the one Odessa that we are and that we certainly were that day in response to the mass shooting," Weaks said.
Weaks said that the healing process takes time and that's why it's important to have these kinds of events.
"So it’s important that anniversary times like this first year observance to take time to remember, to take time to grieve to allow those emotions to come up, to ask God's help and healing and to say thank you for the good things, the blessings, the people that helped us through," Weaks said.
There will be opportunities for support and counseling for anyone who needs it.
"We want people to know that we are stronger together. The family resiliency center will be with us tonight letting people know about their free services of support and counseling to anyone affected in any way by August 31, 2019," Weaks said. "We want people to realize we’re not meant to just shoulder this burden by ourselves and be isolated. We're meant to come together and help each other bare each other's burdens."
The end of the prayer service was marked by the sound of bells. While the events of last year will remain, we will always be Permian Basin Strong.