I could have lived an entire lifetime without hearing the words that opened our Sunday morning worship service in church.
A wonderful gentleman who we have befriended at our Collin County church stood before us and implored those in our congregation who have a state of Texas-approved concealed handgun permit to bring their weapons with them to worship.
To be brutally honest, the message from our friend hit me like a punch in the gut.
We are reeling in North Texas by the events earlier this month, when a gunman walked into the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, near Fort Worth, and opened fire. He killed two parishioners before a volunteer security guard at the church fired a single shot from his pistol and killed the gunman.
The guard is being hailed as a hero. Indeed, he did his job perfectly. It took all of six seconds to eliminate the threat by the shooter.
This is what we have come to in this country of ours. Men and women of faith are now fearing for their safety in houses of worship. In the name of God Almighty, what in the world is happening to us? Moreover, I am quite certain other church congregations all across the country heard something similar to what we heard this morning as we prepared for prayer.
Our friend acknowledged that he packs a pistol hidden away; he is licensed by the state. He said he attended a seminar sponsored by our police department that spoke to the danger posed by lunatics who venture into houses of worship to perform their evil acts.
He gave us a brief primer on what to do in the event gun violence erupts in our church. Our friend told us what he would do while standing guard at the door, as he does each Sunday.
I know I am stating the obvious, but we are living in dangerous times. I just never imagined hearing what came to us today. It illustrates the dire peril we all face … even as we go to church to pray.
God help us.
John Kanelis, former editorial page editor for the Amarillo Globe-News and the Beaumont Enterprise, is also a former blogger for Panhandle PBS in Amarillo. He is now retired, but still writing. Kanelis can be contacted via Twitter @jkanelis, on Facebook, or his blog, www.highplainsblogger.com. Kanelis' blog for KETR, "Piece of Mind," presents his views, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of KETR, its staff, or its members.
Kanelis lives in Princeton with his wife, Kathy.