PELHAM — The New England Pentecostal Church reopened its doors to the public on Sunday, more than a week after a shooting seriously wounded a bishop during a wedding ceremony.
Churchgoers started rolling in around 10:30 a.m. and continued to arrive over the next hour. Pastor Lee Choate, the son of Bishop Stanley Choate, led the service.
Police say Bishop Choate was shot in the chest by Dale Holloway during a wedding ceremony for Mark Castiglione and Claire McMullen on the morning of Oct. 12.
McMullen was shot in the arm and, in the ensuing struggle, Castiglione was hit in the head with an object.
Choate is being treated at Tufts Medical Center in Boston and is expected to recover, officials say.
Three Pelham police officers were posted at the church during the 2-hour service to restore a sense of safety and security, according to Lt. Anne Perriello.
“They are a part of the community,” Perriello said. “We do whatever we can to make people feel comfortable.”
She said the church community just wants to get things back to normal. But police don’t believe there are any more threats to the church.
“We don’t want any issues, but we also don’t anticipate any issues at this time,” Perriello said.
On Saturday, the church, in a Facebook post, called on its community to fast between midnight and 3 p.m. on Sunday so “that the presence of our Lord and Savior meet (sic) us in the service.” Church leaders requested that media not enter the church during services.
After the service, a handful of churchgoers who declined to share their name said the service was great and “a blessing.”
“That’s what we needed for healing,” 24-year-churchgoer Jacqueline Creary of Nashua said.
Creary said the theme of the service was about continuing to pray, to support one another and to serve God.
“That’s what we are as believers. We can’t let the enemy take over,” she said.
When asked if there was any update on Bishop Choate’s condition, Creary said the congregation heard he is doing well.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Ben Agati said the Attorney General’s office is looking into a possible revenge motive for last week’s shooting, but that the investigation is ongoing and he cannot say what the motive was at this time.
Holloway is the stepson of Luis Garcia, a minister at the church who was murdered in Castiglione’s home just a few weeks before the church shooting. Authorities say Garcia was shot in the neck with a handgun. Garcia’s funeral was to take place a few hours after the wedding.
Castiglione’s son, Brandon Castiglione, has been charged with Garcia’s murder.
The circumstances around Garcia’s murder remain unclear but family members told the Union Leader he was counseling Brandon and was at the house to help paint.
Holloway is being held at the Hillsborough County Department of Corrections in Manchester. He has been charged with attempted murder, first-degree assault, simple assault and being a felon in possession of a gun.
He waived arraignment and is scheduled to appear at an evidentiary bail hearing on Tuesday at Hillsborough County Superior Court South in Nashua.