The Rev. Clark Frailey of Edmond said the Rev. Carol Daniels probably was preparing for ministry as most ministers do on a typical Sunday morning when she was slain on Aug. 23 at Christ Holy Sanctified Church in Anadarko. "I recall Jesus’ instructions to his disciples as He prepared them for ministry in Matthew 10:16: ‘Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.’ Our difficulty is in the balance of being innocent and wise at the same time,” said Frailey, pastor of Coffee Creek Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. "If we are to be the redemptive community Christ has created us to be, our doors must remain open and at the same time remain a safe space for people to experience the presence and power of a holy and loving God,” Frailey said.
Image shatteredViolence at houses of worship often shatters the image of these places regarded as sanctuaries. Such was the case in 1995 in Tulsa when an ex-convict working as a janitor at First United Methodist Church of Tulsa killed a church secretary. In March, the Rev. Fred Winters was at the pulpit of First Baptist Church of Maryville, Ill., when a gunman shot him in the chest, killing him. Dr. George Tiller, a well-known abortion provider, was shot to death in May at Reform Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kan., where he was a member. "Whenever I hear of violence in a church, many thoughts run through my mind — what would I do if someone threatened violence to our church members or me, especially in the middle of a worship service, which we also have heard of in the not too distant past?” said the Rev. Mark Muenchow, pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church in Oklahoma City. He said the church has created a safety plan because it has children at its prekindergarten through eighth-grade school. The Rev. Darrell Stetler II said he sometimes works alone at his south Oklahoma City church and doesn’t worry about his safety. "I just figure between the Lord and my own senses, I hope I can take care of myself,” said Stetler, pastor of Bible Methodist Church.
Safety measuresAs for Sunday mornings, Stetler said the church has greeters who remain in the back of the sanctuary to keep an eye on the property during services. He said several church members are certified to carry guns, although they have not been asked to bring the firearms for security purposes. He said the issue of safety is "tough” because believers sometimes face peril. At other churches, personnel like secretaries sometimes find themselves alone at the church. Jean Horst, 70, an administrative assistant at Village Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), said she and another administrative assistant have a system to keep themselves safe at the church at Britton Road and Ridgeview Drive. She said they each lock the outer doors of the church as well as the doors to the church’s main office where they work. The church has video surveillance cameras at the entrances, she said. Horst said Daniels’ death hasn’t made her fear, but it is "a sad commentary on our times.” Meanwhile, Barry Cohen, rabbi at Temple B’nai Israel in Oklahoma City, said he was disturbed by news out of Anadarko. He said the thought of anyone killing another person, especially a minister, inside a church was surreal. Cohen said the temple has safety precautions in place such as the presence of an armed guard during worship services and other activities. Most of the time, a law enforcement car is parked in the temple parking lot during these events. "We do this to send a clear message to anyone who is thinking of doing us harm. In addition, it makes us feel safe and secure,” Cohen said. Cohen said more than five years ago, a man affiliated with a neo-Nazi group tried to firebomb the temple. Cohen said the attack did minimal damage and it occurred when the building was empty.