The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

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April 8, 2013

Congregation seeks comfort, answers week after shooting

ASHTABULA —  It’s been a week since Easter Sunday turned deadly at Hiawatha Church of God.

A beloved parishioner, Richard Riddle, 53, died instantly when police say his son, Reshad Riddle, 28, shot him in the head at point blank range just outside the church after the service. He then entered the church, and holding the handgun in the air, he rambled about Allah and God’s will. Police quickly arrived on the scene and arrested him without incident.

Sunday morning’s service at the church, 3417 Hiawatha Ave., was quite a different scene. It was the first worship service since the shooting and it drew about 50 parishioners looking for peace, comfort and healing.

The Rev. David Howard Jr., pastor of the church, called it a “healing service,” and offered words of healing at the service.

Faith and an outpouring of love were the only thing that got the victims’ family through the week of intense pain, he said.

Assistant Pastor Steve Sargent greeted parishioners and newcomers at the door and said anyone who enters the church seeking comfort and answers is welcome.

Hugs and warm greetings were given to those who entered the sanctuary, as choir leader LaTonya Jackson led an exuberant, “I Lift My Hands in Celebration.”

“God bless all of you,” Howard said as he approached the pulpit. “Thank God you are still alive.”

Believing in God’s healing power, Howard said, “You can’t let the past dominate the future. We must go on ... we know what happened was a plan of Satan. Satan has a mission to steal, kill and destroy. The church offers life, hope and happiness.”

Many parishioners shouted “amen!”

“When you leave here today I want you to leave here with some faith,” Howard said. “I’m gong to pray for you. Healing is part of God’s work.”

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