Shelby, NC - Church members may soon be provided with guns to act as security guards at one local church.
Washington Missionary Baptist in Shelby, N.C. is seeking 10 members to act as security guards -- some identified and some undercover -- during church services.
Rev. Melvin Clark said the Charleston Massacre, where nine people were shot and killed inside a Charleston, S.C. church, was the deciding factor for him. Since the massacre, a number of churches have been victim to arson -- possibly hate crimes as most are predominantly African American, just like Washington Missionary.
"We don't need to go overboard, we just need to be equipped," Clark said. "...I would not want anybody to get injured or killed on my watch."
Clark is no stranger to horror stories at church. In 2002, he and eight others were kidnapped at gunpoint outside a church in Lake Wylie, S.C. where he previously worked. Four people were shot but all survived.
Clark said the church is working with local law enforcement to make sure proper procedures are followed. It is also mandating that potential security guards take classes in preparation.
"I think leaders have to be responsible and say 'What can we do?' to make sure our parishioners are safe," Clark added. "I'm not saying that everybody has to take these actions but I think we do need to figure out what we need to do and let our parishioners know what we're going to do."
The church's board members must approved the plan since funding for classes and weapons will come out of the church budget. Clark hopes to have the security guards in place sometime in 2016.