Slain Fort Dodge pastor’s mission of community service continues

Iowa News

FORT DODGE, IOWA — On Tuesday morning, the man accused of killing pastor Al Henderson was found guilty of first-degree murder. On Wednesday morning, the group Henderson founded to serve his Fort Dodge community gathered to continue Henderson’s legacy, one teddy bear at a time.

Henderson was killed in October 2019 in Fort Dodge. He was found lying unresponsive outside the St. Paul’s Lutheran church where he served. Joshua Pendleton was found nearby with Henderson’s phone in his pocket. On Tuesday he was convicted of murder and robbery charges. Pendleton will face an automatic sentence of life without the possibility of parole.

Henderson spent years leading St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and serving as chaplain to the local police and fire departments. It was in this dual role that Henderson founded the group SOS – ‘Serving Our Servants’. The group has continued on after Henderson’s passing. On Wednesday, the group gathered care packages for children that will be distributed to officers who can hand them out to kids caught up in stressful situations.

SOS organizer TJ Pingel says the Pendleton trial was hard on local law enforcement officers who had to relive the day they responded to the scene of their chaplain’s homicide.

“Those men and women that were there that night, as the trial’s going on, a lot of them have to testify and everybody had to relive it,” says Pingel, “Part of our whole essence of being is to make sure that they know that we care about them. Pastor Henderson’s tragedy will never be forgotten and especially for those first responders that were out there.”

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