Recent mass shootings compel churches nationwide to arm themselves
TEXAS- The November massacre at a Texas church has obliged one church's pastor to carry a gun, and fellow clergy members plan on protecting their congregants by arming themselves as well.
"Churches are more vulnerable than ever before," Pastor Joe Worley of First Baptist Church in Groves, Texas, said.
Worley's congregation is about three hours east of Sutherland Springs, where Devin Kelley allegedly blasted his way into a church Nov. 5 with a high-powered rifle, killing 26 people and wounding 20 others.
"You think that it will never happen, but we need to be careful, as Christians, not to be naive," he said.
At least six other church attacks have occurred around the nation within the past ten years, as well as a Baton Rouge church in 2006.
Pastor Worley says worshippers attending his church are allowed to carry concealed weapons, but anyone arriving with weapons in the open are "asked to cover," even though Texas is an open-carry state.
Worley, however, says he refuses to wear his weapon while preaching.
"I’ve told my safety team, 'Listen, I can’t be up there teaching and preaching and also carrying. So I’m going to trust in the Lord and trust you guys that if something happens, you will act,'" he said.
Meanwhile, Marengo Christian Church in Morrow County, Ohio is taking a more direct approach.
Pastor Jeff Copley started concealed-carry training courses in 2004 as a way to increase attendance, and he's now posted a sign on the building announcing that members have the right to take arms into the church.
Since then, he has seen his 50-member evangelical congregation — including farmers, machinists and highway workers — turn to firearms.
“We say it’s their right if they want to exercise it, and others have been mugged or disabled by vicious attacks,” he said. “There’s also women who are abused by a spouse or victims of rape.”
He declined to say whether he carries a gun in the pulpit.
At the kickoff of each training seminar, Copley said, he recites the same directive.
“I say, ‘I pray for them. I pray for myself that, whenever I put my gun on, my prayer is I will never have to use it,” he said. “So far, that’s been an answered prayer.”
You can read the full report from ABC News by clicking HERE.