‘The whole city has been devastated’
So says Baptist minister the Revd David Evans, the minister of Ford Baptist Church and Morice Baptist Church. The fatal shootings in Keyham on 12 August took place between the two churches
‘It’s been a very strange time,’ David explains. ‘Many people are scared, and the streets are significantly quieter. There are many stories of people who either saw what happened, or were in the area, and they are reflecting on that.
‘The fact that one of the victims was a three year old girl has hit people hard.
‘It’s too early to know what support people will need, but they will need something, and I just hope it’s available. The whole city has been devastated.'
David has led Morice since 2011 and Ford from 2019 after previously serving as a chaplain at Plymouth University. He was on holiday when the shootings took place, and after checking on his congregation in the immediate aftermath, he was back by the weekend, leading prayers at the services at both churches.
David has subsequently offered support and prayer in numerous ways. He chatted to the police on duty at Ford, the church nearest to the incidents: he noticed how many had been seconded from other parts of the country, to allow those who had responded on the day space to process what had happened.
Christians across Plymouth have worked together to offer a response, with the building at St Mark’s open for those looking for support, and David has been present to offer his help. He took part in the multi-denominational service of prayer and hope at the Church of St Andrews last Wednesday (right), a sensitive service led and put together by The Bishop of Plymouth, the Right Reverend Nick McKinnel, someone who has lived and served in the city for many years.
On Tuesday morning David prayer walked the local streets with a deacon from Ford and a Salvation Army officer. ‘They were the very streets we had prayer walked just a month before,’ he says.
‘The streets were much quieter than normal. No dog walkers, no children playing. We met one of my congregation who had just come out of Lidl, and she said the supermarket was much quieter.’
He led a further prayer walk for members of his congregations on Tuesday evening, when about 20 people gathered to walk and pray between the two Baptist churches.
David says many people are reflecting on their proximity to the tragedy. For instance, he mentions the shootings took place near a busy road at rush hour.
‘If the shooter had turned right, rather than left, and started firing at the traffic, people are thinking it could have been them,' he explains.
'There are lots of stories too. I’ve heard of someone who was planning a walk at the time, but didn’t feel well; another who was about to go shopping but was told about the shootings just before she went out. It has affected so many.’
Much help has been mobilised and offered by a variety of agencies, but David is concerned this support might not be available for long.
‘Some people have come to St Marks, but my anxiety is that after this week that help might not be there, just at a time when more people are ready to access it. Plymouth actually has a relatively low level of crime for a city.
‘When it’s out of the news, people will start to ask for help. The people who are here now will have gone back. I hope they will leave us lots of details about signposting.’
With that in mind, David has suggested the following prayer points:
Five candles were lit during the service of prayer and hope on 18 August. Jake Davison shot and killed five people (Maxine Davison, Lee Martyn and his daughter Sophie, Stephen Washington and Kate Shepherd) on 12 August, and injured two others before fatally shooting himself.
Pray for all the agencies and churches as they strive to offer help and support to people affected by the tragedy
Pray for all who are scared and struggling
Pray that people can see church as a place of help and support
This image, and the one of David Evans, are screenshots taken from the YouTube recording of the service broadcast by Plymouth City Council, which can be accessed here.