Macon mega churches react to Charleston church shooting
The accused gunman is reportedly identified as 21-year-old Dylann Roof. Roof is accused of killing nine people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. The church’s pastor, Clementa Pinckney, was among the victims. Pinckney was also a Democratic State Senator.
The shooting at the Charleston, South Carolina church has stirred emotions. A couple of the large Macon churches say they have security measures in place.
The Senior Pastor of St. Paul AME Church, Michael Ephrain, admits he was devastated about the church shooting.
“I cried, I wept for the families but particularly for Pastor Pinckney’s family that is left to deal with it,” says Ephrain. “We know that evil and hatred is everywhere and we just have to trust God in what we do.”
Mable White Baptist Church Senior Pastor Lee Sheppard had similar sentiments.
“I think it’s uncalled for, you know it’s definitely unforgettable. It’s just a very, very sad situation,” says Lee.
Emanuel AME Church in Charleston is more than 190 years old. The historic church is known as the Mother of the AME Church, according to Ephrain.
The St. Paul AME senior pastor explained Charleston, South Carolina has historical ports where slaves were brought from Africa and sold.
“I think that he picked the most historic landmark for blacks in Charleston. So if you were going to do damage, then why not pick the mother church of the South in terms of African Methodism.”
Willie Purcell is the Head of Security for Beulahland Bible Church. Purcell admitted he was upset and suspicious when he heard about the church shootings.
“To think that someone felt they had the right to go into a place of worship when someone is studying the Bible and trying to foster their relationship with God.
For that person to feel like they have the right to take their lives and leave them for dead is disturbing,” he said.
Pastor Ephrain says he knew Pinckney.
“Love the brother,” says Eprain. “He’s a wonderful young man, a state senator. My heart was just broken that he was killed in the line of duty.”
According to Ephrain, the Georgia AME Bishop Preston Warren Williams has requested all AME churches in Georgia to participate in a prayer vigil for the victims and their families involved in the church shooting.
Georgia law allows for church goers to have guns inside the building.
“I’m sure as many people as we have here on a Sunday, that somebody’s packing,” added Sheppard.
Purcell explained although the state law permits guns in church, according to him, the church has the right to prohibit weapons inside the building.
Beulahland Bible Church and Mabel White Baptist Church have security teams. Some of the men and women are in uniforms and others are in plain clothes.
Sheppard revealed in the six years he’s been pastor, he’s never had a disruption during a service.
“It could have happened to any of us at any given time,” continued Sheppard. “We take some steps here to make sure that it’s a safe environment.”
“We have several officers who are certified in the state of Georgia to enforce the laws and to act accordingly whenever necessary,” added Purcell.
Purcell explained an incident at Beulahland Bible Church which led to an arrest.
“We had a male subject that came to our worship service and he acted inappropriately toward a female in the sanctuary,” he said. “So we immediately and discreetly escorted him out.”