Monday, November 3, 2008

Pastor's son:Forgive father's killer;Cincinnati minister killed while attending N.Ky. funeral

WEST END - The message was difficult, but the congregation shouted “Amen” and “Hallelujah,” telling the young pastor his words were “right on time.”Rev. Ronald Glover, the stepson of Rev. Donald Fairbanks, asked hundreds on Sunday to practice the power of forgiveness. Let go, and let God handle their loss, Glover said, sharing his message only a day after a gunman killed his father, the pastor of the New St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, and injured Dowdell Cobb, a deacon there.“I have to forgive. Justice will be served. Vengeance is not mine, but it is the Lord’s,” Glover preached from the pulpit. “Until we learn as a church to forgive, we can’t move forward. Regardless of how severed the circumstances, we’ve got to forgive.”Members of the congregation gathered at the church where Fairbanks had ministered to them for more than two decades, searching for comfort and answers to what they called a senseless death. They shared long embraces, comforting words and grief-filled looks through tearful eyes. Today they mourned, but eventually, they told each other, this too will pass.So, they did the only thing they could do, the thing their late pastor would have wanted them to do: They prayed.They prayed for the Fairbanks and Cobb family. They even prayed for Frederick Lee Davis, 40, of Covington, the man police charged with the shootings.“I immediately blamed God, but I had to realize that God needs pastor up there more than we needed him here,” Glover said. “We are to love our enemies. …(and sometimes) it’s a hard pill to swallow when your enemies have no regard for your life.”Covington police provided no motive this weekend for what they described as an ambush attack. According to officers, Davis opened fire once the men stepped out of a black Cadillac. First, he allegedly fired at Cobb. Then, he shot Fairbanks. Police say Davis chased Fairbanks to a nearby park pavilion and then shot him at least once more.Fairbanks was taken to St. Elizabeth Medical Center where he died. Cobb is recovering at University Hospital. Cobb’s oldest son, Xavier, said his dad is alert and sitting up in his hospital bed.Members say Davis attended the New St. Paul church years ago. But at some point, the relationship between the pastor and his former member soured.Hamilton County court records show a yearlong court battle that ended with a judge ordering Davis to stay away from Fairbanks, his family and the church.Last summer, Fairbanks filed a complaint, alleging Davis called and threatened his wife, saying, “I’m going to make you feel what I feel.”According to court records, Davis told Elizabeth “Cookie” Fairbanks that her husband, who was out of town at the time, was with Davis’ ex-girlfriend. In that same complaint, Fairbanks denied the claim.Davis violated his parole twice, although it is unclear what he did wrong. The most recent violation was 16 days ago.The men were attending the funeral of Alice Turner, a 71-year-old great-grandmother, when they were ambushed on Ninth Street about 10:50 a.m., Russo said.On Saturday morning, Fairbanks and Cobb were attending Turner's funeral to support one of her family members who attended their church, said the Rev. Richard Fowler, pastor of Ninth Street Baptist."As is our practice in the ministry, we like to support our family members regardless of where they are at the time," he said. "If there are family members they are grieving over, we like to offer our support."Fowler said he was shocked that a shooting would take place during a funeral outside his church."To think that somebody would have total disregard for the family, they're already bereaved over the loss of a family member," he said. "For someone to have so little regard for how they are feeling and going through at that moment. And to not be concerned about safety either as far as the number of people who are here, and not even be concerned about who else could be affected. It's beyond thinking."You used to think that church was a safe place," Fowler said."He preached about love and nonviolence," said Deacon Fuqua, referring to Fairbanks. "At our church everybody was welcome. This church is really going to be hurting."Fairbanks, 62, played the piano at the 300-member church and led the choir, Fuqua said.Bennie Doggett, Covington's Eastside Neighborhood Association president, was in the neighborhood when the shooting occurred. Doggett, who attends Ninth Street Baptist, went to high school with Fairbanks at Taft High School."Rev. Fairbanks was one of the outstanding ministers in Cincinnati," she said. "He was well-respected."Doggett said Fairbanks was able to keep an active congregation even though the population around his church had moved away."They had one of the most outstanding choirs in the Cincinnati area," she said.A friend of the family, Keon Hankerson, 27, said words couldn't describe what the pastor's death would mean to the church.
"He was his church," said Hankerson. He called Fairbanks a mentor to him and others. "He taught all of us young guys," he said."You never expect this," he said, "especially to someone who is always kind to everybody."Cobb works at Duke Energy as a supervisor, said his sister-in-law Kim Wright.
By Amber Ellis
As in the days of Noah....

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