By SHERON C. PATTERSON
Cynthia and Mike McLelland
Slain DA, wife were active Methodists
As the nation focused on
the horrific murders of Mike
and Cynthia McLelland, two
North Texas Conference pastors
found themselves front and
Mike McLelland, the district attorney of Kaufman
County, and his wife, Cynthia,
a psychiatric nurse — both
active United Methodists —
were found shot to death March
30 in their home near Forney.
Their slayings, as well as the
killing of Kaufman County
Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse on Jan. 31, remain
The McLellands were members of First UMC Terrell. The Rev. Keith Head has been pastor there for the past two years. The Rev. Joe Ed Goolsby, a retired pastor serving at First UMC Sherman, was pastor at First UMC Terrell 10 years ago. While there, he
performed the marriage ceremony of the
McLellands. Rev. Goolsby and his wife,
Juaneille, became close friends with the
couple and often shared meals together.
“They were more than church
members, they were our good friends,”
Rev. Goolsby said. “Mike helped me
start a Sunday school class, which is now
one of the largest at the church.”
The Rev. Joe Ed Goolsby of First UMC Sherman gave the eulogy at the public memorial service for the McLellands at First Baptist Church of Sunnyvale.
Photo: First UMC Sherman
Rev. Goolsby gave the eulogy at
the public memorial service for the
McLellands at First Baptist Church of Sunnyvale and offered a prayer at the private service at First Baptist of Wortham.
He called it “a surreal experience.”
“I got a call an hour after the bodies
were found. I learned that Cynthia’s son
was looking for me to ask me to give the eulogy. It was an honor to be asked.
I did it because of our friendship,” Rev.
For the Sunnyvale service, at which
Texas Gov. Rick Perry also spoke,
“the funeral was almost a frightening
experience,” he said.
“I have done a lot of funerals in
my time, but this is the first time I
encountered so much police presence.
“There was a police roadblock on
the highway that led to the church, with
three police cars on each of the four
sides of the intersection.
“As I drove up to the intersection,
a policeman stopped my car; he did not
say a word. He just looked into my car
and waved us on. It was that way all the
way to the church.
“At the church, there were snipers
on the roof and there were four police helicopters hovering over the church
in every direction. Once we got inside,
we had at least three to six uniformed
officers around us constantly.”
“Fear was everywhere,” he said.
“Everyone in the church was looking
around to see who was in there.”
Goolsby’s sermon “was based on
2 Timothy 4:7, ‘I have fought the good
fight; I have finished the race.’ I tried to
present who Mike and Cynthia were in
connection to the church, the community,
the county, to me and to their family.
They kept the faith, and they would get
to wear crowns.”
At Wortham, where Mike McLelland
grew up, 300 people packed the small
In response to the ubiquitous
question of where was God in this, Rev.
Goolsby paused and said: “God was in the midst of this and sustained us in getting
through. God sustained us to proclaim that these two people were indeed blessed people who were a blessing to people. God
was in the midst of making this event positive despite the negative surrounding it.
“God did not have anything to do with somebody coming and killing two people. God was there with the family and gave them strength and courage to respond in faith.”