Despite the loss of a church member killed in an officer-involved shooting on Friday, energy was high in New Heights Christian Center on Sunday morning as the pastor tried to follow his own message to “keep pressing on.”
As they await details from an investigation into the shooting, family members of 40-year-old Terence Crutcher were prominent in the small church near 54th Street North and Lewis Avenue.
Terence’s father, Joey Crutcher, led worship from the organ; two of Terence’s daughters sang in the choir and his mother, Leanna Crutcher, sang an emotionally-charged song from a pew in the back.
Pastor Terry Shannon advised the congregation to not let difficult times “swallow you up.”
“Don’t let it devour you,” Shannon told the congregation of about 35 people, adding that he felt he needed that advice more than anyone else.
Terence Crutcher was fatally shot by a Tulsa Police officer on East 36th Street North near Lewis Avenue Friday evening after he reportedly did not comply with officers’ orders.
He had been approached by officers after one of them, while en route to another call, spotted his stalled sport utility vehicle in the street, according to police.
Police have said Terence Crutcher approached the officers from the side of the road and then reached into the vehicle rather than following officers’ orders for him to put up his hands.
Officer Betty Shelby reportedly fired a single gunshot at Terence Crutcher a short time after Officer Tyler Turnbough deployed a Taser. Shelby has been placed on routine administrative leave with pay during the pending investigation.
Police have not yet said whether Terence Crutcher had a weapon at the time of the shooting, but his family members say he was unarmed.
After the service on Sunday, Shannon said his wife, co-pastor Barbara Shannon, had been determined to keep spirits high at church.
“She was saying that God had revealed to her just to keep that going, you know, don’t come in sad and solemn,” he said.
The service was exuberant — loud, upbeat music included a drum set and tambourines, and members clapped their hands and danced — but it was dimmed by a shadow that didn’t require explanation.
A box of tissues was at one point passed to Terence’s daughters in the choir box, and Shannon wiped his eyes as he appeared to struggle to hold back tears while seated on stage when his wife led a prayer.
Shannon said it was a “blessing and a joy” to be Terence Crutcher’s pastor at the church attended “faithfully” by the family for years.
“He sang in the choir,” Terry Shannon said. “He had a beautiful voice.”