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TX – SELF-PROTECTION – Too small to hire guards, too worried to go gun-free, community churches are now arming themselves

Sunday service had just ended, but Noah Tillman-Young called his small congregation back for another prayer. Shots had been fired at a rural church just down the road — a church a lot like theirs. As his 30-some parishioners stood in a circle asking God for protection, something changed for the pastor of Joyful Heart. An act of mass violence in his Stockdale, Texas, church was no longer unthinkable. Ten miles away, 26 people were dead at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, the deadliest shooting at a house of worship in the country’s modern history. That night, Tillman-Young and parish leaders held a vigil for their neighbor church. The next day, they decided to arm their own. “It’s nothing you ever imagine could happen, but when it hits so close to home, you have no choice — you can’t ignore it and you have to prepare,” Tillman-Young said. “It’s the reality that houses of worship are increasingly becoming targets.” With a new team of private security officers and an armed corps of volunteers, Joyful Heart joined the wave of small and midsize places of worship adopting security measures to gird against the rising threat of violent attacks.  [full article]

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