Hundreds gathered on a crisp Monday morning to grieve the loss of a man whose preaching and gardening left an unforgettable imprint on those who met Wayne Scott Creach.
The service at Greenacres Baptist Church, which Creach founded, included only a few mentions of the questions surrounding his death late Wednesday night when he was shot by Spokane County sheriff’s Deputy Brian Hirzel, who is assigned to the Spokane Valley Police Department.
Friends, family and parishioners filled the sanctuary, youth building and a large event tent erected on the church lawn. Some attendees had to stand outside and watch a video feed of the service.
“Pastor Scott loved his wife and his family. He will be greatly missed,” colleague Eric Walsh said at the service. “The Creach family finds great comfort as they see God’s plan unfolding through this tragedy.”
Walsh and others spoke of a man whose unyielding principles attracted people to both his church and his business, the Plant Farm.
“He had an opinion about everything and didn’t mind telling you what that opinion was,” Walsh said. “Inside that gruff exterior was a tender heart. Pastor Scott was a good shepherd who was loved by his sheep.”
Phyllis Stephens, a friend and colleague of Creach’s, said the shooting was a tragedy not only for the family but for Hirzel and his family.
“He always had an opinion, but he always had a great smile,” Stephens said of Creach. “It’s wonderful so many people came today. It’s like he said, something good will come from this. We don’t know what it is yet, but there will be something good from this.”
Walsh talked about how Creach and his wife, Imogene, and their three children moved to Spokane from Oklahoma in 1965. Six years later, he founded the church where the crowd gathered to honor his life.
Jeannine Sims drove from Tigard, Ore., to attend the service. Creach was good friends with Sims’ husband.
“I think he would have been a little embarrassed by all the good things said about him,” she said. “He is leaving his heritage for his family and church to carry on. He’s certainly been a good example for us all.”
Lee Williams spoke about how Creach did not want to grow so old that he “would have to have someone push him around. Most of that was a fear of those who would push him,” Williams said to laughter.
Williams also spoke of a man of compassion, who during a tragedy always asked about the person, their family and what he could do for them.
“I never would have imagined that this was part of the plan,” Williams said. “But Pastor Scott was always trying to find the good in the bad.”
Williams said Creach taught him gardening and “that the garden was a place … where you get to see the fruits of your labors. In your ministry, you may not see it.
“The Lord has called Pastor Scott home,” Williams continued. “Today, you can see the fruit of his labors.”