SULLIVAN, Ill. (WCIA) — Sullivan First United Methodist Church took to social media asking for prayers after a car drove through an Indiana clothing store, hitting their pastors.
The accident happened at a DXL store in Evansville, Indiana on Sept. 2. Police arrested Cilus Sainvois, who was driving on a suspended license according to authorities. Pastors Mike and Beth Fender were shopping when the incident occurred.
Members of their church in Sullivan were shocked. The Fenders both have several broken bones, but are expected to recover. In the meantime, the church is trying to figure out who will lead their congregation.
“We want to give it some space and time for the pastors when they are ill, and so they can fully recover and then come back with full strength,” said Angie Lee, United Methodist District Superintendent.
Lee said she couldn’t believe what happened to her pastors; neither could Mike Craig, who helped lead Sunday’s church service as the Fenders recover.
“It’s just a really kind of bizarre set of circumstances. Literally just almost the perfect ‘wrong place, wrong time’ type of situation, because who would think that in a store, a car is going to drive through the front and hit you?”
Other church leaders like Nancy Craig are also stepping up.
“It’s then a feeling of calm after we talk to each other that, oh yes, we know we’ll be fine. But we will miss our leaders.”
They say with their faith in God, and their family-like congregation, the church and the Fenders will get through this.
“Their children are friends to my children. And so we have known each other some years. Good relationship,” Lee said.
The Craigs spoke with the Fenders over the phone and said they were just excited to hear their voices.
“We will be anxious to get them back and, you know, just really sorry that this happened,” Mike Craig said. “But again, like Angie said, I think it’ll make us stronger.”
The Fenders have been leading the church for four years. Craig said they were taking time off to prepare for their daughter’s wedding.