Bowling Green—A Bowling Green man was arrested after allegedly attacking his father with a knife during a Sunday service at Hillvue Heights Baptist Church on Aug. 14. The church’s co-lead pastor, however, is encouraging the congregation not to recoil in fear, but instead remain “a church for all people.”
According to the Bowling Green Daily News, Ethan Buckley, of Bowling Green, was charged with first-degree assault-domestic violence after allegedly stabbing his father multiple times in the neck during the 9:30 a.m. service. The church’s security team apprehended Buckley until police arrived.
After the incident, the church cancelled its 11 a.m. service while members comforted and consoled each other, trying to make sense of what had happened. Many were shocked that this type of incident could occur at Hillvue Heights.
“It’s scary, but in today’s society this can happen anywhere,” said Alicia Bell, who was in the sanctuary when the attack occurred, according to an article in the Daily News. “I’m glad that my family and I are okay, and I’m praying for anybody who was hurt.”
In his Wednesday evening message Aug. 17, Jamie Ward, co-lead pastor at Hillvue Heights, reflected on the horrifying incident.
Before that Sunday service, Ward said he had spoken to both of the first-time guests, who were seated on the third row, as he recalled. While the father ap-peared to be a “very humble and gentle man,” Ward recollected that the son “wouldn’t acknowledge me.”
As the altar call began, Ward said he heard a scream. The man had grabbed his father around the neck and started stabbing him, he recalled.
Ward pointed out that from the moment the son grabbed his father, he was subdued in 12 seconds. “The response of our (church) safety team was unbe-lievable,” he said.
Ward also commended law enforcement officers and medical professionals who were attending that day, noting that nurses started working on the dad even before the son was in handcuffs. In six minutes … he was in the back of a police car, and the father was in the back of an ambulance, Ward said.
“God was just all over this (incident),” he said, referring to the prompt reaction of church members, adding, “I guess, (the response) was the exact opposite of what the enemy had intended.
“The enemy’s hope,” Ward continued, “was that the mission and vision of this church would be dashed in that event, and no one would even come back here because they wouldn’t feel safe.
“Yet, everyone I’ve talked to has said, after I saw the (quick) response, I feel safer now than I ever had before,” he said.
Ward said he had spoken with father, who since has been released from the hospital. “I saw him get stabbed in the neck twice. There was blood all over the floor,” he said. “God just saved that man’s life.”
Ward recounted that the father, who is from Arkansas, told him that he had brought his son to Hillvue Heights in hopes of getting some help for him. “I thought if I brought my son to Hillvue Heights he’d be saved,” the father remarked, “but I can’t help but think now that God brought me to Hillvue Heights to save me.”
“This wasn’t an attack on Hillvue Heights Church. This was a thing between this boy and his dad,” Ward emphasized. “He was obviously a very troubled young man.
“This kid, I don’t know what’s going on in his life,” Ward added, “but, man, he needs Jesus, and we know that Jesus loves him.”
Encouraging church members to reach out to the young man by sending snacks to him at the jail, Ward urged, “I’m praying that God just opens a gigantic door and somehow for that kid to feel the love from this church.”
Turning to Ephesians 6:10-12, he encouraged church members to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” as their struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil.
“Satan,” Ward said, “would like nothing more than for all of us to be discour-aged, … and (for us) to say, ‘You know what, it’s not worth reaching everybody. Maybe we should be more careful about who we let in here.'”
“My overwhelming thought since Sunday has been, I still want to be a church for all people,” Ward challenged church members. (WR)
Todd Deaton and Cary Donnell