ARLINGTON - Nearly a dozen local ministers arrived at Northpointe Baptist Church Friday evening to wrap their arms and their words around the small congregation after Pastor Clint Dobson was found dead and his assistant critically beaten inside the church the day before.
There was only one candle lighting the dark. No songs were sung as the men, women and children waited for comfort. One at a time, they tried by offering prayers for protection, courage and healing. One woman gripped her Bible, drawing strength from a verse, "Trust in the lord with all your heart."
But, it was the last man to speak, Dobson's supervisor Kent Betrand, who may have known exactly what was needed.
"I've lost a very close friend," he said. "I've been to worship here every Sunday."
He looked ahead to Sunday morning at NorthPointe, the place where Dobson lost his life.
"On this Sunday, we're not going to cower," he said as "amens" followed. "We're going to stand strong."
"This service was amazing," said one woman in attendance. "The acknowledgement of the hurt, the brokenness."
The vigil ended and a song began to find more voices until its full sound made it evident it was "Amazing Grace."
Police in Arlington found Dobson dead and his ministry assistant Judy Elliott critically injured after receiving a call from someone who had looked inside the church's window and saw a motionless body on the ground.
Elliott, who was transported to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, is now expected to survive.
Police said both 29-year-old Dobson and his 67-year-old assistant were physically assaulted, and robbery was a possible motive. Some of their personal possessions were missing, as well as church items.
Elliott had worked at the church since 2007. Friends said the assistant was beaten so badly, her husband was unable to recognize her at the scene.
Authorities are still searching for a suspect or suspects in the case.
Friday, the day after the attack, flowers covered the entrance into the church. Loved ones and church members gathered at the church to mourn Dobson's death.
"He had a heart for the disadvantaged and people who were struggling, and that's just who he was," said Pastor Dennis Wiles, First Baptist Church of Arlington. "He was a fine young preacher, but he was a much better person."
Dobson was a graduate of Baylor University. He also volunteered time as a community minister for the Arlington Police Department, and was very active when Arlington Officer Julian Smith was killed.
The pastor grew up in Houston, where his family still resides.
"Everybody is asking why, you know, the typical response at times like this," said a mentor of Dobson's in Houston. "And of course, we're trying to look for opportunities to say how much we love them and how much we love Clint."
Elliot's 2007, cream-colored Mitsubishi Galant was missing from the scene. Police are searching for the vehicle, which has a license plate number DFR-352.
The cause of Dobson's death has not yet been released.