North Carolina Pastor Arming Parishioners To Keep Worshippers Safe

Michael Conroy/AP
Michael Conroy/AP

Washington Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Melvin Clark says he is arming 10 parishioners to ensure his church is a place where worshippers feel safe.

Clark’s church is located in Shelby, North Carolina–the town in which Dylann Roof was captured after allegedly shooting dead nine members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.

According to Fox News, Clark indicated he wanted to avoid a situation where an attacker could enter the church and face no resistance. But he said he also wants to steer clear of a situation where an attacker enters and congregants draw guns from all directions. So his plan is to train and arm 10 parishioners who will serve as security at the church.

Clark said: “I think the key to this is having people who know how to handle situations. [It] becomes a safer place for people who want to defend themselves.”

Clark explained that he knew having guns in church was a good move long before the Charleston attack took place; he was “held at gunpoint and taken hostage in his church by an assailant in 2002.” Based on this personal experience he said, “There has to be an atmosphere of safety within the church for parishioners to come to worship.”

He and other leaders in his church are currently working with law enforcement to ascertain the best firearms for the 10 parishioners to carry. Clark is also discussing methods of engagement with law enforcement, should an attacker target the church.

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