ARLINGTON -- The Rev. Dennis Wiles stepped to the front of NorthPointe Baptist Church and paused before he began.
"This is not Clint's funeral," Wiles told the congregation Sunday. "Today, we will worship Jesus."
But tears fell as Wiles spoke of the Rev. Clint Dobson, the young, engaging Baptist preacher who had stood before this congregation for so many Sundays, speaking in the friendly, conversational style for which he was known.
Dobson, 28, was found slain at the church Thursday, and his assistant, Judy Elliott, severely beaten. A suspect with a criminal history dating back a decade was arrested and a capital murder charge is pending. Police have said that robbery appears to have been the motive.
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About 225 church and community members filled the Arlington sanctuary, which has about 70 on an average Sunday. Church leaders brought in extra chairs, and mourners lined the back of the church. In the lobby, people paused at a memorial of flowers and a large framed photo of a smiling Dobson.
Clutching their well-thumbed Bibles to their chests, participants sang hymns including It Is Well With My Soul and Jesus Paid it All. Dobson's and Elliott's families attended the service.
It began with a reading of Psalm 46, which begins: "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble."
Wiles, senior pastor of First Baptist Church Arlington, for which NorthPointe is a satellite, urged parishioners to seek comfort and to trust in God.
"Turmoil is not a permanent state," Wiles said. "It is a seasonal affliction. ... Jesus knew that."
Still, the questions will come, Wiles said. Why did this happen? Where was God on Thursday morning? What kind of God would let this happen?
"Anybody can believe when they see. What about when darkness sets in?
"We walk by faith," Wiles said, "not sight."
Dobson had worked at First Baptist since 2007. Before that, he earned a bachelor's degree at Baylor University and attended Truett Theological Seminary, where he won a top preaching award.
David McDurham, a friend of Dobson's and minister of church communications, said Dobson was a gifted orator with a relaxed style that drew people to him. His sermons were intellectual, yet relatable; Dobson could throw in a Greek word or two, which he was known to do, while keeping the congregation riveted, McDurham said.
Wiles thanked the Arlington community and Police Department, which he said have rallied behind the church and worked tirelessly.
"We are grateful," Wiles said, "and we are humbled."
In life, he said, Dobson provided an example for everyone to follow.
"Clint Dobson has claimed his place in the company of the redeemed," Wiles said. "He was ready."
After the service, church members hugged one another and wiped away tears, stealing last glances at the framed photograph of the young preacher.