Starrville Methodist Church holds memorial service Sunday 1 year after tragic shooting

WINONA, Texas (KETK) – Just a year after the tragic shooting, members of the Starrville Methodist Church congregation gathered to remember the day their late pastor was killed.

“It was like slow motion. You know, you couldn’t really believe what was going on, ”congregation member Mike Sellers said. A memorial was held in memory of Pastor Mark McWilliams.

On January 2, 2021, Myrtez Woolen reportedly led law enforcement officials in pursuit when he drove to Starrville Methodist Church property, destroyed the car, then ran into the woods behind the church , leaving the shotgun behind, according to Smith County law enforcement.

According to Smith County law enforcement, Woolen was able to get inside the church by smashing a window.

That morning, Jan. 3, 2021, McWilliams ran into Woolen trying to hide in the back of the church, Smith County law enforcement said.

Woolen got into a fight with the pastor who had a gun and investigators say Woolen opened fire, killing the beloved pastor, according to Smith County law enforcement.

During the incident, the pastor told Sellars to call 911, but he was also shot and shot six times.

On Sunday, January 9, the year-long memorial service included songs of worship, prayers and the sharing of memories of what McWilliams has contributed to the church.

“Mark was a very caring, dynamic and thorough preacher. He was just wonderful. You know, he was our boss! He was very energetic! You know, you wouldn’t have thought he was in his 60s… You would have thought he was in his 40s! said the sellers.

Pastor Paul Bolding stepped in after the tragic incident to help serve the Starrville Methodist Church congregation in times of need and shared that he was proud to walk in healing with church members.

“We love people! I don’t know if it’s because of what happened, but I’m sure it has something to do with it, ”Bolding said. “Everyone has become very close. So it’s a very tight-knit group of people who were here or who came here because there was something special here that they wanted to get involved with.

Starrville Methodist honored McWilliams by planting an October Glory Maple on church property with help from Breedlove Nursery.

The church has been active since 1852 and the devotion of the community keeps it strong to this day.

“Last year, the 3rd, was a very dark day. But everyone who was there that day has already proven that the light of God overcomes darkness and it can happen anywhere if you just walk in with Jesus on the Light, ”Bolding said.

The congregation walks together in healing, one day at a time.

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