Just four days after the racist attack on Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on Sunday the 21st, every church in America was on the lookout for a copy-cat killers, especially traditional black congregations.
In Arlington, the Armstrong African Methodist Episcopal Church sits a few blocks north of downtown, and on Sunday, around two dozen parishioners were grieving with the rest of the nation for those lost in the attack when a young white man, alone and in his late 20’s, entered the sanctuary. Churchgoers went on alert, and within minutes, the church pastor, Portia Duncan, called 911.
According to the story in the Fort Worth Star Telegram, Rev. Andre Waits, the co-pastor, talked with the man for a few minutes, and he seemed to be ‘acting strangely” and “said some things that were a little disturbing”. He inquired if Armstrong was an “all-black church.”
The comment that prompted the call to police, according to Waits: “The man said he felt fine…and added ‘until I went off the deep end.'”
Arlington Police dispatched two units, and the officers talked with the man, outside of the church, and determined that he was harmless, and homeless.
Church members say that there is a nearby homeless shelter that opens at 3 on Sunday afternoon, and Arlington Police Sgt. Gary Carter said, “In light of all the things happening, people are on edge. He probably wanted some food.”
In other times, Rev. Waits said, people going to the shelter have stopped in at the end of services, or to share in a church lunch, but in light of what happened in Charleston, people are afraid.
“I didn’t really want to come to church today, and that’s sad,” said Melissa Cheatham-Farr, lifelong Armstrong Church member. She added, “I don’t think I’ve been this afraid in the 49 years I’ve been going here. You need to feel secure where you live, where you work and where you worship.”
Another member of the church, Anastasia Smith, said “I take no threat lightly, In this day and age, churches are easy targets. They’re trusting. The history of the church is we take in anybody.
“But God didn’t say you have to be an idiot,” she said.
At the end of Sunday services, Rev. Waits, in his sermon, said that to be ruled by fear plays into the devil’s hands.
“The devil wants you off your game,” he said. “But regardless what the devil has in his mind, the doors of the church are always open.”
Arlington Police said that the man had no known criminal record, and they asked him to “move along.” His identity was not available.
Rob Milford is a news contributor to Breitbart Texas. You can follow him on Facebook.