By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
CHATTANOOGA — When Eric Stitts, pastor of Bayside Baptist Church, Harrison, heard of the domestic terrorism attack on two military facilities in the city on July 16, his first thought was disbelief.
Then he turned his thoughts and prayers to the many policemen in his church who he knew would be called to the scene.
As it turned out, one of those officers (Dennis Pedigo), was one of two people wounded during the incident which took the lives of four United States Marines and a Navy sailor. The shooter, Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Kuwait, was later killed.
“Dennis is very faithful,” Stitts said. “He loves his family and he takes his responsibility as a police officer very seriously.”
Stitts noted that Pedigo is a “man of integrity” and is well respected in the church and community.
Following the shooting, Bayside was open all day on July 17 for prayer. The church also prayed on Sunday, July 19, for Pedigo and everyone involved, Stitts said.
Stitts told the Baptist and Reflector on July 27 that Pedigo is currently undergoing rehab. “He is doing well and is in good spirits,” Stitts said.
He noted that he told his church two weeks ago following the same-sex marriage ruling by the United States Supreme Court that now is not a time to panic or to live in fear.
In light of what happened on July 16, those words still ring true, he said. “We must walk in our faith more than ever before. We must trust in God who can raise the dead,” he said.
The most recent incident is another reminder “that we need spiritual renewal in our nation and that it must start within our churches,” Stitts said.
TBC Executive Director Randy C. Davis observed that “Baptists all over the state of Tennessee are praying for our friends in Chattanooga as they deal with the enormous grief caused by evil personified.
“We know all things work for God’s glory and the good of those who follow Christ, even in great tragedy,” Davis said.