Family and friends of Brian “B.J.” Jennings turned to their faith to find comfort and the strength to forgive during a two-hour-plus memorial service for the Burleson youth minister on Wednesday afternoon.
More than 1,000 people packed into Venue 510 in Burleson to honor the 41-year-old teen pastor for Alsbury Baptist Church, who was one of four people killed just before midnight Saturday in a four-vehicle accident on Burleson Retta Road. Jennings had stopped to help a stranded motorist when a pickup truck full of teenagers slammed into the stopped vehicles.
Also killed in the accident were Breanna Mitchell, 24, who stopped on the side of the road after having a blowout on her SUV, and Hollie Boyles, 52, and her daughter, Shelby Boyles, 21, who lived nearby and, like Jennings, had come to Mitchell’s assistance.
The Rev. Scott Sharman, senior pastor at Alsbury Baptist, opened the memorial service for Jennings with a reminder to pray for the loved ones of the other accident victims, too. He also urged those attending the memorial to look past their grief to find a way to forgive the teenagers in the pickup truck that caused the fatal accident.
It was an admonishment repeated often throughout the service, perhaps most poignantly by Jennings’ teenage daughter, Abby.
“My dad always told me never to be bitter,” Abby Jennings said. “He always told me that I have a beautiful and caring heart, and that he didn’t want to see it go bad. And I won’t let it. I am going to live to make my daddy proud.”
Russell Rasor said that had Jennings survived, “his heart and soul would be asking forgiveness for all those involved.”
Rasor, who said he had known Jennings for more than 20 years, said that Jennings had been wild and reckless himself as a teenager, and that as an adult, had he survived, “he would be reaching out to those kids in that truck, because he was those kids in that truck. There are many here today who, when Brian was in his teens, spent countless hours praying for him. Today, pray for those kids with the same fervor [with which] you prayed for Brian.”