Anniston church memorializes 5-year-old member killed last week; vigil planned

The groundbreaking of a new building for an Anniston church also served as a memorial for the young congregation member killed last week.

Victory Headquarters Christian Center planned Friday's ceremony before the death of five-year-old Gregory Caver, who lived in the house next door to the church.{} He began attending Sunday School at the church soon after moving to the neighborhood six months ago.

Caver died July 26 as a result of blunt force trauma.{} The district attorney charged Caver's mother, India Kimble, and her boyfriend, Vonta McClellan, with capital murder for his death.{} Investigators said McClellan beat Caver with a belt for wetting his pants.{} Prosecutors said Kimble allowed her son to be beaten and verbally abused him during the attack.

"We have seen in the recent tragic event that has come upon our community in the loss of the life of Little Gregory that evil is yet stark, grim, and colossally real in the world," VHCC pastor Charles Gregory said to his congregation before they broke ground for the new sanctuary.

"We cannot stand idly by and allow children to be abused, nor domestic violence to go unanswered.{} We must stand up and present the gospel message of Jesus Christ."

It was a somber time during what should have been a joyous occasion.

"We had it planned to celebrate the erection of a new sanctuary, but the loss of little Gregory certainly impacted all of us, and we decided we could not let his death in vain but to use it as an opportunity to hopefully help other little Gregorys that perhaps are going through the same thing," Pastor Gregory said.

Church elders said the young boy liked that he shared his first name with the pastor's last name, and he looked up to the preacher and aspired to be like him when he grew up.{} It meant a lot to the pastor.

"One of the things that touched my heart, was in a day where most little children say I want to be a professional football player or a professional basketball player, I was tremendously humbled, that his dream was that he wanted to be able to preach the Gospel like [me]," Pastor Gregory said.

"I think that is a powerful desire that that young man had, and that lets me know that God was already working in his life."

He called upon the congregation and other churches in the area to work to end child abuse and domestic violence.

"We will not be able to eradicate all of the evil in the earth but if we work together, we can greatly minimize the type of events that resulted in the death of little Gregory," he said.

"We must answer evil of the world with good.{} We must answer hate with love. {}We must answer violence with peace."

Pastor Gregory said he hopes the new church building will allow them to expand the outreach of their ministry and provide more opportunities for children and teens.{} He and the church elders are considering using some of their existing facilities as a possible shelter or home for battered children, and they will be building a family life center.

The church will also hold a vigil for Gregory Caver in their current sanctuary at 2418 Wilmer Avenue, right next door to Caver's home.{} The service will be Friday, August 16, from 6-7 pm.

Pastor Gregory called on the mayor, city council, and other church congregations to join him in standing up for victims of child abuse and domestic violence.

"We cannot allow the loss of little Gregory's life to go unanswered. {}We must believe that God is going to give us beauty for ashes,{}{}the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, which is upon our community at the loss of life of this little fellow."