On Sunday mornings, you’ll find Pastor Brenda Stevenson preaching from the tattered pages of her Bible to a congregation clinging to her every word.
But the pastor of New Outreach Christian Center will soon be armed with something other than the word of God.
“Like I tell everybody – just welcome two new members, Smith and Wesson,” Stevenson said.
They’re going to think it’s my Bible case, because I sit back here.
Pastor Brenda Stevenson
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Next month, Stevenson will take the pulpit with a gun by her side for the first time, a need realized after the Charleston shooting, something she believes might have been stopped if someone inside could have fired back.
“I do not believe nine people would have gotten shot or killed. I talked with my husband and I said, ‘Honey, we need to get a gun,’” Stevenson said.
For Stevenson, this decision is about protecting the people who sit in her pews every week.
“If someone walked through the door and had a gun, because you don’t know where people’s minds are. They’re losing their jobs, they don’t have food to eat and they’re looking to take it out on somebody,” Stevenson said.
Stevenson will be taking a concealed handgun course in the coming weeks before she brings her new addition to church.
“The gun is in layaway as I speak with a case, ammunition, the cleaning. And I’ll be ready to carry a concealed weapon as soon as I take the class in August,” she said.
Stevenson insists no one will be able to notice the accessory she hopes she never has to use.
“They’re going to think it’s my Bible case, because I sit back here,” Stevenson said.
But if the time ever comes, Stevenson wants her congregation to know, she’ll be ready.
“When it starts hitting home, it’s time for you to protect your own,” Stevenson said.
New Outreach Christian Center has been targeted before. In the mid 1990s the church was burned by an arsonist who was never apprehended.