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Local church prays for 3 members believed missing in San Bruno fire

September 12, 2010 | 12:14 pm

The tearful congregation at Bethany Presbyterian Church in San Bruno gathered Sunday morning in grief and gratitude.

Three members of the small church remained unaccounted for and were presumed dead: Greg Bullis, his teenage son William, and his elderly mother Lavonne.

"Most of us came particularly with the Bullis family in mind," said Rev. Don Smith during the 10 a.m. service. "Lord, there are times when grief is worse than others, pain more enslaving of our lives. Today, the Bullis family comes with grief and sorrow -- not because they know, but because they don't know.

"Move along the process, so we may know the truth," Smith prayed. "Lord, embrace this family in your arms. Give them the sense of your presence."

Two other missing members of the congregation had been found safe, and many of the churchgoers at Bethany Presbyterian struggled Sunday morning with conflicting emotions.

They were stunned by their community's disaster, but grateful for the city's first responders and the outpouring of support. Smith spoke of the disaster assistance center set up to help those displaced. And he introduced two members of the Presbyterian Church USA disaster response team that had been sent to San Bruno to help out.

"What love and support everyone has given," exclaimed one congregant during open prayer. "We all have so much to be grateful for. Yes, the event has been horrendous. But we have to take our blessings into account."

-- Maria LaGanga in San Bruno, Calif.