Churches use gun classes as outreach tool

Published: Thursday, Dec. 20 2012 10:55 a.m. MST

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Our take: It's common for local churches to offer classes in marital relations, child rearing, personal finance, overcoming addiction or other needs in the community. How about weapons certification? Some churches offer those classes as a way of reaching out to non-churchgoers, and the local faith leaders of those churches see no conflict in a house of worship filling that role.

Located midway between Tulsa and Siloam Springs, Ark., the town of approximately 8,500 sits in the heart of Oklahoma’s greenbelt. Hunting and fishing are simply part of everyday life in Pryor, as it is known to locals.

Derek Melton is the assistant chief of police in Pryor, as well as senior pastor at Pryor Creek Community Church, a congregation he describes as Baptist, but not Southern Baptist.

"We follow the 1833 Baptist Confession," Melton said. "We are an historically evangelical church."

The confession is better known as the New Hampshire Baptist Confession of 1833, and there are very few churches around the country that subscribe to it. They answer to no denominational headquarters, no bishop, no overarching authority, except the Holy Spirit as mediated through the congregation.

Pryor Creek Community Church is also one of a few dozen churches around the country that are offering concealed carry certification classes as a way to reach out to non-Christians and attract new members. Melton sees no conflict between being a Christian and possessing weapons.

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