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Gospel Preacher Killed

inthenewsThe wife of a slain Tennessee pastor confessed to killing him and has been charged with first-degree murder, officials said today, after she was questioned overnight by state, federal and local officials.

The woman, Mary Winkler, is in the process of being extradited from Alabama, where she was found Thursday night, and will probably return to Tennessee this weekend, said Roger Rickman, a police investigator in Selmer, Tenn., where the Winkler family lives.

The charge of first degree murder, indicates that she planned the killing in advance, authorities said. “First degree is premeditated,” Officer Rickman said.

The police declined to discuss the circumstances of the killing, what the murder weapon was, or Ms. Winkler’s motivation. Friends in Selmer described her as “the perfect mother, the perfect wife.”

Ms. Winkler, 32, was charged after being found, along with the couple’s three daughters, Thursday night on the Gulf Coast of Alabama, hundreds of miles from their home in Selmer. Officials said she had agreed to return to Tennessee to face charges.

They also said the children were evidently not present during the killing. “The girls have no idea of what happened to their father,” Officer Rickman said.

He said children were in the custody of the Alabama child welfare agency, but that members of Mr. Winkler’s family were seeking to gain custody. “One of the grandfathers is down there now to get the kids,” Officer Rickman said.

Ms. Winkler and her children were found about 24 hours after members of the Fourth Street Church of Christ found the bloodied body of Matthew Winkler, 31, in the church’s parsonage. He had been shot in the back, the police said.

NYTimes.com
By JOHN HOLUSHA
Published: March 24, 2006

Analysis:

Gary Winkler is the grandson of well known institutional preacher and author, Wendell Winkler. Just a few months ago we got some advertisement in the mail indicating that a class curriculum designed by the three generations of Winkler men was on sale.

Two thoughts come to mind as we sadly contemplate the death of this young man. First, how ingrained the denominational concept is in our society. Papers such as the New York Times are always careful to get the story right, down to the smallest detail. However, in just about every story, Winkler was stated to be a ‘pastor’ despite being only 31 years of age. It is a small point, but telling; and indicates the great prejudice we face as we try to teach the world the true gospel of Christ.

Second, it clearly shows the fallible nature of man. We must place our trust in God rather than men. Mary Winkler was thought by all who knew her to be a model citizen, devoted wife and mother, and faithful Christian. We wonder how many will have their faith shaken by her ungodliness? We should certainly keep the Winkler family in our prayers.

This is truly a shocking and disturbing story, and perhaps that is why it has captured the imagination of our entire nation. Perhaps there is a lesson in that. The world still recognizes what it means to be a Christian, and how such ungodliness is a radical departure from true discipleship. In your Christian walk you are being watched. People expect better from you. You should be careful to “walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise” (Ephesians 5:5).