10 March 2011

Ash Wednesday Funeral

About 1500 worshipers in Arlington, Texas, observed Ash Wednesday, 9 March 2011, by attending the funeral of slain pastor Clint Dobson.

Clint was a very good friend. When Edith and I came back from Africa two years ago, Clint joined our sons and their families to meet us at the airport. We quickly grew close. I picked up my role as sax player in the church worship team, where I had participated over the years when we were in town. Clint and I would have coffee periodically and talk about books, study topics and his plans for the church.

This past week has been a torture of surrealism. The whole of Arlington and the broader Dallas-Ft Worth Metroplex were shocked at the initial news of Clint’s murder and the brutal beating of Clint's ministry assistant Judy Elliot in the church building, on Thursday 3 March 2011. The story was national news.

Friends and church members found themselves in various video footage of unfolding events as the news media kept the public informed of the developing story. In two days the Arlington Police had one perpetrator in custody, and before long tracked down the second, with the help of concerned local citizens who knew him.

The Arlington Pastors and Police Association, a chaplaincy and community relations group, with whom Clint had been active, comforted us as in a public prayer vigil on the front steps of NorthPointe on the night following the murder. The staff and members of the parent church, First Baptist Church, Arlington, led by Pastor Dennis Wiles and Pastor of Administration Terry Bertrand, enfolded the small NorthPointe family in care and support.

Edith and I are very thankful for a special gift whose import we could not have known the weekend before Clint was killed. Clint came by the house to return a book he had borrowed from me. This whole experience has been eerie, like reality has been suspended. At times still, when I think through this, when I remember discussions with Clint, when I think back to his precious last comments in our home that Saturday before his death on Thursday -- I am thankful, I am angry, I am puzzled, I am amazed, I am sad.

Clint was a voracious reader, he was always thinking, exploring, envisioning. When he and I would meet for coffee, he would talk about the authors he was reading, the current topic he was exploring and theological and social questions important to him.

I enjoyed sharing theological speculation and historical reflection with him. He was interested in perspectives we had learned from other cultures in our decades of life primarily in Africa. Clint liked to see different and fresh ways God was speaking into our human existence in His active Love.

Clint took Jesus' words seriously. He lived by faith and he loved people. He had a special rapport with children. Thank you, God, for the rich times we had with Clint, before he was taken from us.

Obituary and Condolence Book for Clinton Roderick Dobson

The Associated Baptist Press
Slain pastor laid to rest

Mourners filled First Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, March 9 to celebrate the life of a young mission pastor cut short by murder, while more than 500 others watched live on the Internet.

Funeral of Pastor Clint Dobson
NorthPointe Church Worship Service after Clint's murder
Clint's Last Blog on the NorthPointe Website
Memorial by Dr. Dennis R. Wiles, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church Arlington
Facebook Page Pray for NorthPointe

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