A South Texas church is to unveil a new sanctuary a year and half after a gunman opened fire and killed more than two dozen congregants in the deadliest mass shooting in the state's history.
Worshippers, elected leaders and relatives of those killed or injured at the First Baptist Church in the tiny town of Sutherland Springs are expected to gather at the new sanctuary for a dedication ceremony on Sunday.
Republican Governor Greg Abbott will also attend the opening and deliver remarks.
The new worship centre and memorial room was made possible through millions of dollars of donations and other worldwide support.
The facility features enhanced security elements, along with a church bell tower and another additional prayer space.
A gunman shot and killed 25 people at the church on November 5, 2017. Authorities put the official toll death at 26 because one of the victims was pregnant.
Rod Green, the grounds steward of the church, said the new facility had security cameras and there was now a "response team" made up of designated worshippers.
"I mean it's a big beautiful building, it's a new house of worship for God and there's been a hell of a price paid, 26 deaths for it," he said.
Kevin Smith, the director of the US Department of Homeland Security's Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, said the centre was working with houses of worship nationwide to help them take proper steps to secure their facilities and prepare for potential threats.
"We want to make sure during this heightened awareness we ... take what was meant for harm and make it good by providing the tools that help and empowering the rest of the churches across the nation," he said.
Australian Associated Press