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Slain Ill. Pastor Remembered for His Caring, Faith

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  • First Baptist Church
    (Photo: AP Images / Robert Cohen, Pool)
    The congregation prays at the funeral of Rev. Fred Winters, pastor of First Baptist Church, who was gunned down in the middle of his sermon, last Sunday. in Maryville, Ill., Friday March 13, 2009. Keith Melton, in the white shirt at right, was one of the members who tried to stop the gunmen.
March 13, 2009|4:41 pm

MARYVILLE, Ill. – The Illinois minister slain in his church while delivering his Sunday sermon was remembered Friday as a man devoted to his family, his faith and the congregation he built.

The packed First Baptist Church service was marked with funny stories about the Rev. Fred Winters' thrifty habits and his willingness to come out to play when neighborhood kids knocked at his door.

But a prominent theme was forgiveness for the man who killed him in the same church days earlier and the belief that Winters was in heaven.

"On Sunday, my husband did not die. ... He just simply got a promotion," Cindy Winters said told the congregation.

Terry Sedlacek is charged with murder and aggravated battery in Sunday's attack, which also left two church members injured. His attorney has entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.

At the church, several speakers told of how "Pastor Fred" embraced his work — how he would do anything for his 1,200-member congregation.

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The Rev. Bob Dickerson said that as the attacker approached, "I can't help but think the first thought Fred had, just those moments before this terrible deed, was ... here's somebody that can't wait to receive Jesus Christ."

His wife told of how she and her two daughters would emerge from this tragedy stronger than they are now.

"I'm not going to survive this thing, I'm going to be a better person because of this thing," she said.

Sedlacek was being held without bond in Madison County jail after being transferred from St. Louis to Illinois on Friday afternoon. He had been hospitalized in St. Louis for treatment of self-inflicted stab wounds, then spent Thursday night in the St. Louis city jail.

Associated Press writer Don Babwin contributed to this report from Chicago.

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
 

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