A church in Texas is mourning the unexpected death of their pastor and his wife who were involved in a car crash in New Mexico on Sep. 24.
In a statement released by the New Mexico Department of Public Safety, Kenny Comstock, 35, and Melissa Comstock, 34, along with their three young children were driving near Tatum, NM when their truck was hit head-on by another vehicle.
The Comstocks passed away as a result of the crash, however, their children did not sustain life-threatening injuries.
Mr. Comstock was the executive pastor at Crossroads Church in Odessa, TX.
Following news of the crash, Crossroads Lead Pastor Jeremiah Ramer released a statement on Facebook about the incident.
“There is no easy way to deliver news like this. Last night our Executive Pastor Kenny Comstock, his wife Melissa, and their three children Natalie (6), Camden (4), and Carver (1), were in a multi-vehicle accident in the state of New Mexico. I am broken-hearted to inform you that Kenny and Melissa did not survive the accident. Their children Natalie and Carver, both survived with some scrapes and bruises. Camden, sustained head injuries, underwent surgery, and is expected to make a full recovery.”
Friends and fellow church members are expressing their grief at the loss of the couple.
“He was a good friend,” said Sara Billingsley. “He was a good person. I don’t think many people are lucky enough to have a Kenny in their lifetime. I’m just sad that we didn’t have our Kenny for very long. We didn’t have him long enough.”
Family friend Derrick Bush said he is still stunned over the tragic accident.
“He was passionate about education,” Bush said. “We would have several discussions about Compass Academy. He would talk about his long-term vision and goals for Compass. He was always excited to tell me about how Compass compared to other school districts.”
“The shock just hasn’t really worn off and really it won’t probably for a while,” Bush added.
Pastor Ramer explained the importance of turning to our Heavenly Father for peace and comfort during such a difficult time as this.
“It doesn’t matter when these things happen,” Ramer said. “They happen and you are never ready for them. You are never prepared. You look to the Lord and trust Him and try to find a little bit of hope in what feels like a hopeless situation.”
“We have hope because Jesus understands our sorrow,” Pastor Ramer said.
U.S. Supreme Court Rules Against New York’s Restrictions On Religious Gatherings
The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily barred New York from enforcing strict attendance limits on places of worship in areas designated coronavirus hot spots, in a decision released just before midnight on Wednesday.
The decision marked a major shift for the court, in essence at least a partial reversal of previous rulings, as well as a clear indication of the court’s dramatic move to the right with the addition of new Justice Amy Coney Barrett in place of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Earlier this year, while Ginsburg was still on the court, it was Chief Justice John Roberts who cast the critical fifth vote to uphold a similar order from governors in California and Nevada.
This time, Roberts was in the minority, noting that the New York rules at issue in the case had already been eased.
The newly constituted majority, however, rejected Roberts’ deferential approach, noting that New York could impose the strict orders again at any time.
“The restrictions at issue here, by effectively barring many from attending religious services, strike at the very heart of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty,” the unsigned majority decision said. “Even in a pandemic, the constitution cannot be put away and forgotten.”
The New York rules imposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo restricted attendance at religious services in areas classified as “red” or “orange” zones. In red zones, no more than 10 people were permitted to attend each service, and in orange zones, attendance was capped at 25.
Those rules, which the court majority found to be “severe” and “inflexible,” did not apply to retail stores in the same neighborhoods, the decision said. In an “orange” zone, where secular businesses are subject to no attendance cap at all, the discrimination was “even starker,” the court said.
The justices in the majority, in addition to Barrett, were Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.
Gorsuch filed an unusually acerbic concurring opinion, blasting not only Governor Cuomo but also Chief Justice Roberts for his earlier opinion in the California and Nevada cases.
Referring to the more lax rules for New York retailers, Gorsuch opined that “at least according to Governor Cuomo, it may be unsafe to go to church, but it is always fine to pick up another bottle of wine, shop for a new bike, or spend the afternoon exploring your distal points and meridians,” a reference to acupuncture being unregulated.
And when it came to Roberts, Gorsuch spent several pages accusing him of “rewriting history” in his dissenting opinion on Wednesday and his earlier opinions in the California and Nevada cases.
“In the end,” said Gorsuch, while Roberts and the other dissenters may wish to “stay out of the way” and let state officials and experts deal with the crisis of a pandemic, “we may not shelter in place where the Constitution is under attack.” There is, he wrote, “no world in which the Constitution tolerates color-coded executive edicts that reopen liquor stores and bike shops but shutter churches, synagogues, and mosques.”
Roberts replied with a slap-down of his own. Quoting from Gorsuch’s acid dismissal of the dissenters’ views, the Chief Justice said he did not regard his dissenting colleagues with such venom: “They simply view the matter differently after careful study and reflecting their best efforts to fulfill their responsibility under the Constitution.”
As to Gorsuch’s concurrence, which, as Roberts put it, “takes aim at my [earlier] concurring opinion,” Gorsuch had engaged in such overkill that he spent “three pages” criticizing one sentence.
And “what did that sentence say?” asked Roberts. “Only that our Constitution principally entrusts the safety and health of the people to the politically accountable officials of the states to guard and protect.”
Those words, said Roberts, “should be uncontroversial, and the Gorsuch concurrence must reach beyond the words themselves to find the target it is looking for.”
That earlier opinion involved rules that were not as strict as the New York rules. The California church limited attendance to 100 people. In buildings with a capacity of 400 or fewer people, capacity was limited to 25%. In Nevada, churches were limited to 50 people.
On Nov. 12, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Agudath Israel of America asked the court for temporary injunctions against the New York governor’s executive order.
The synagogues said Cuomo’s order “singled out a particular religion for blame and retribution” for the uptick in coronavirus cases.
The court granted the temporary injunctive relief until the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in December — and then the Supreme Court as appropriate — can more fully consider the merits of the case. But the majority said that challengers, as of now, have a good chance of prevailing if they get to the Supreme Court again.
It’s unclear how the case will proceed. New York’s Solicitor General Barbara D. Underwood recently informed the court that recent changes to the policies in question meant none of the diocese’s churches or the area’s synagogues would any longer be subject to the restrictions.
Cuomo described Wednesday’s decision as a political statement. In his daily coronavirus briefing Thursday, he said, “Look, I’m a former altar boy, Catholic, Catholic grammar school, Catholic high school, Jesuits at college. So I fully respect religion and if there’s a time in life when we need it, the time is now. But we want to make sure we keep people safe at the same time, and that’s the balance we’re trying to hit, especially in this holiday season.”
Indonesian Terrorist Burns Down Church and Christian Homes, Killing Four
International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on November 27, an alleged terrorist attacked the Salvation Army’s service post in central Sulawesi, before burning six houses of church members. Four Christians were murdered, with three being butchered.
Around 8 a.m., the Lewonu Lembantongoa Service Post, located in Sigi Regency, Central Sulawesi, set up as an outreach effort by the Salvation Army in Indonesia (Bala Keselamatan), was attacked by the alleged terrorist.
He set the church on fire, before attacking Captain Arnianto, Mrs. Mpapa, Lieutenant Abram Kako and his wife and burning down six houses of the church members. Out of the four victims, three were hacked to death, while the other was burned.
In the video seen by ICC, the charred victim was pulled from a pile of ruins, with smoke still rising in the background. The fowler position of the body suggests the agony and pain endured by the victim before death.
Lemban Tongoa is located in the forest, where access of information and transportation is limited. ICC will continue to follow up to learn more about the details of the attack. The Salvation Army is asking for prayers “for the family of the victims, for the church, and for the peace of the region.”
Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager for Southeast Asia, said, “ICC mourns the death of the Indonesian brothers and sisters who were brutally murdered by the alleged terrorist. We urge the Indonesian government to take necessary measures to hold him accountable and put him to justice. Such senseless act cannot be tolerated in the country that boasts ‘Pancasila,’ the state ideology which promotes religious harmony and tolerance.”
U.S. Supreme Court Rules Against New York’s Restrictions On Religious Gatherings
The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily barred New York from enforcing strict attendance limits on places of worship in areas...
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