Shot fired into church sanctuary during special service

A congregation says they're thankful no one was hurt after a bullet came flying into their sanctuary during a special service.

On the last day of the year as the clock ticked toward midnight, parishioners flocked to New Bethel Church. The New Year’s Eve service draws a large crowd every year and this year was no different.

“We are a packed house and it’s right after midnight so people are coming to the alter for prayer so there’s a lot of movement in the building,” said Joyce Martin, the church’s administrator.

Martin was among the crowd praying with the pastor.

“I hear him say stay focused. God wants you to stay focused,” she recalled. During that time someone outside the church fired a gun. One bullet pierced the metal roof and came crashing through the insulation and ceiling tile. It bounced off the flood and landed by the choir.

“The presence of God dwells here because we recognize it’s the presence of God that shielded us,” said Martin.

At the time, Martin didn’t realize a bullet had come through the church. She saw some of the ceiling down on the floor but it wasn’t until the church deacons discovered the bullet that she realized what had happened.

“It’s just difficult to process that someone I love, many people I love, were in that room that someone could have lost their life that night,” said Martin.

By the grace of God, Martin says, the bullet didn’t hit anyone. She has this message for the person who pulled the trigger.

“I would want people to remember revelry costs. In their irresponsible behavior of firing weapons off and knowing that things that go up must come down. It could have been so tragic,” Martin said.

She’s thankful that the joyful service to celebrate 2020 didn’t end with heartbreak.

“We received our first miracle in the first moments of the new year and that was no one was injured by that bullet,” Martin said.

Martin filed a police report but there’s a good chance that the church will never know who pulled the trigger.