- (Photo: AP Images / Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Paul Moseley)
Dozens from NorthPointe Baptist Church and the community of Arlington, Texas, mourned the murder of their 28-year-old pastor Friday.
Clint Dobson was remembered as a vibrant young pastor who always had joy in his heart during the vigil.
"He always had a smile on his face and would hug you as you walked in," said Lida Cummings, a church member, according to The Associated Press.
"He loved everybody. He's going to be greatly missed."
Dobson, who was lead pastor of the satellite ministry of First Baptist Church Arlington, was found dead Thursday inside the church he had been leading for about three years. His ministry assistant survived but was severely beaten. Police suspect it was a robbery.
Dr. Dennis R. Wiles, senior pastor of FBCA, expressed shock as they "try to come to grips with this unspeakable tragedy."
While saying prayers for the affected families and congregation of NorthPointe, he stressed that "the ministry of Clint Dobson survives."
"Eternal seeds have been sown in countless lives. His preaching and his life have served as proclamation of a glorious Gospel that is mankind’s only hope," Wiles wrote in a note to the church community.
Dobson, a distant relative of influential evangelical James Dobson, decided to go into ministry while attending Baylor University. The Rev. Rick Carpenter, associate pastor for pastoral care at University Baptist Church, recalled a conversation he had with Dobson at that time.
"He had had a chance to serve as a chaplain for his frat brothers," Carpenter said, as reported by The Citizen-Journal. "What he wanted to talk to me about was out of that experience, maybe that was what he should do in his life."
He graduated from Baylor's Truett Theological Seminary and went on to lead NorthPointe. According to the church's website, Dobson loved reading, watching football, the Texas Rangers, drinking coffee and spending time with his "amazing wife." His prayer was for the church to always be humbled and "in awe of the grace and redemption given by God."
He described his assistant, Judy Elliott, who remains hospitalized, as someone who kept everyone in line and everything moving forward.
In one of his last blog posts featured on the church website, Dobson spoke of God as all powerful and glorious and who revealed Himself to mankind through Christ Jesus.
"God is certainly beyond our understanding, but in Christ, we know Him and have communion with Him," he wrote on Feb. 28.
According to reports, Dobson and Elliott were discovered after someone went to check on them Thursday afternoon. When a relative could not reach either of them, someone went to the church, found it locked, peered through the window and saw the victims on the floor. Police were called to the scene.
Oak Farms Dairy is offering a $10,000 reward for information on the attack.
While the congregation tries to reel from the tragedy, Wiles reaffirmed their faith and trust in God.
"In times like these, we turn to God and cling to the big truths that we know," he wrote. "Our God is a God of grace and glory. He is enthroned forever. His will is sovereign and His grace is sufficient. The events of Thursday afternoon have not altered any of that."