By Kevin Fuller
Staff Writer 

Church Family Helps Pastor Grieve - Brevard NC

 

Jonathan Blackburn (Davey's younger brother), Tessa Blackburn (Jonathan's wife), Dave Blackburn, Brenda Blackburn, Davey Blackburn, Weston Blackburn and Amanda Blackburn. (Courtesy photo)

For 51-year-old Dave Blackburn, pastor of NEXT Church in Brevard, the recent holiday season wasn't filled with the joy that typically overflows his family's cup.

Blackburn and his wife, Brenda, spent the holidays helping their son Davey grieve the loss of his pregnant wife, Amanda, after she was murdered by an intruder in the couple's home in Indianapolis, Ind.

"It was a different holiday," Blackburn said.

Blackburn, along with members of his congregation and Brevard community members, have come together to help the grieving family who lost "Sweet Amanda."

She died after home intruders shot her.

"The support has been amazing," Blackburn said, after returning to Brevard from Indianapolis.

Larry Jo Taylor, 18, and Jalen Watson, 21, both of Indianapolis, have been charged with multiple felony charges, including murder.

Indianapolis police said Taylor and Watson assaulted Amanda in her home on the 2800 block of Sunnyfield Court in the morning hours of Nov. 10, and when officers arrived, she had died from apparent signs of trauma.

According to an affidavit for probable cause released by the Marion County Prosecutor's Office, Amanda Blackburn was shot in the head and the left lower arm, with another possible gunshot wound in her upper back. The affidavit also states that Taylor admitted to several people that he shot Blackburn after she charged at him once he broke into the home.

A third man, 24-year-old Diano Gordon, has been charged with burglary, after investigators said the man was with the two accused of murder during the crime spree that included several other alleged felonies over several days.

The Blackburns had moved to Indianapolis in 2012, where Davey took a position as pastor of Resonate Church.

The gunshots could not be heard in Brevard, but the aftermath is felt by Davey's parents and members of the church his father pastors.

"We never know when the emotions are going to hit," Dave said. "They come in waves."

Blackburn said he has also been overwhelmed with the support from his congregation and the Brevard community.

Church members provided two weeks of meals for the family after hearing about the tragedy.

They've provided gifts for Amanda and Davey's 1-year-old son, Weston, for the holidays and financial support. Brevard Wesleyan also took a love offering, providing financial support for the family. Brenda's employer, Blue Ridge Community College, has also given monetary gifts to Davey and Weston in Amanda's memory.

"Our family has been the recipient of a lot of love from a lot of people," Blackburn said.

The congregation of between 80 and 100 people have taken their message of love to the streets, where they've participated in random acts of kindness in Amanda's memory. They've created small cards that read: "For Indy," which they give to random folks after completing tasks such as carrying their groceries or raking the leaves from their yard.

"They are just a loving group of people," Blackburn said of his congregation.

The support does not stop with his congregation. While Blackburn was having Thanksgiving dinner with Davey and Weston, and other family in friends in Indianapolis, his phone rang. It was Brevard Mayor Jimmy Harris.

"One of the first people to reach out to me was the mayor," Blackburn said.

Blackburn said Harris, who lost his 16-year-old son Quinn in 2014, took him out to lunch when he returned after the Thanksgiving trip, offering support and words of wisdom concerning the grieving process.

Members of other local churches have also reached out, showing support and text messages of support and prayers for the family.

Mike Miller, with the Southern Baptist's Association, sends Blackburn regular texts, letting him know he's praying for him.

Blackburn said the support has helped reaffirm his faith. He also said he is frequently asked how people can pray for his son.

"Davey needs a lot of prayer for being a strong dad for Weston," he said.

Blackburn has never doubted his son's strength. His son's faith has been immovable from an early age, he said.

"None of us were ready for what happened, but all his life he's been prepared," Blackburn said. "He's been in love with Jesus. That has made him strong."

Davey has since posted a statement on his church's website that reads: "It's impossible to communicate all the emotions my heart has been forced to process.

"My wife was such a beautiful, gracious, loving woman of God. I have not only lost my ministry partner and support but also my very best friend. There is no way to prepare yourself for circumstances like these."

Blackburn recalled the time when he lost his mother, when Davey was a small child. He said he remembers his son asking him why he was crying, after learning of his mother's death.

"Davey looked back with that childhood faith and said 'Why are you crying? Grandma went to heaven, right,'" Blackburn said. "Davey has just has a very unshakable faith."

It is in faith the Blackburn family has been strong, and it is in faith that has brought a community together to support them.

Blackburn and Brenda plan to travel to Indianapolis to be with their son and grandson as often as their schedules will allow it.

This past Christmas was the first Dave and Brenda had spent apart in 36 years. Dave needed to be in Brevard to give the Sunday sermon at his church.

The murder has shaken the family to its core, but the Blackburns are not allowing hate into their lives.

"Every day we decide to forgive," Blackburn said.

For now, Blackburn and his family will focus on the support, which he says has given the family strength.

"There's no way we could thank everybody for what they have done," Blackburn said.

To help send support to Davey and Weston Blackburn, visit http://resonatein dianapolis.com/.

Those looking to offer support can also visit http://nextchurchnc.net/#/next-church/amanda-davey-blackburn.

 
 

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