Watching the Funeral of a Young Law Enforcement Officer

Today I watched the funeral of a local young Police Officer who was shot and killed in the line of duty, Officer Adam Jobbers-Miller. As a 30 plus year Law Enforcement Officer, I have witnessed way too many of these funerals. With tears streaming down my face I think of Officer Jobbers-Miller’s fiancée, his mom and dad, the rest of his family and all of his fellow officers at the Fort Myers Police Department. The feeling of loss is almost overwhelming. The emptiness left at the loss of a son, brother, fiancée, partner, fellow-worker.

Officer Jobbers-Miller is the eighty-sixth (86) Law Enforcement Officer to be killed in the line of duty in the United States and the eight (8) in Florida in 2018. As I write this watching the funeral the number has grown to ninety-one (91) Law Enforcement Officers who have died in the line of duty. Men and women who have gone into dangerous situations to protect people from evil sacrificing their lives.

Officer Jobbers-Miller died in the service of the people of the City of Fort Myers, enforcing the law. The lieutenant of his shift at the Fort Myers Police Department called Officer Jobbers-Miller a warrior. That is exactly what he was, a warrior protecting the people of Fort Myers from the evil that most people hope never to see. As a Police Officer, Jobbers-Miller was also a servant of God, ordained for the good of the community and the punishment of evil. The Apostle Paul makes clear in Romans 13:1-4 the God has ordained civil governments to protect the good and punish evil. Officer Jobbers-Miler, along with most law enforcement officers, likely never think of the reality that they are serving God’s plan and are ordained by God in the jobs.

God’s plan was not thwarted by the bullet fired by a desperate evil man the night of July 21st, 2018 when Officer Jobbers-Miller was shot. God’s plan was not thwarted when Officer Jobbers-Miller died several days later. It was not thwarted when any of the ninety-one (91) Law Enforcement Officers died in the line of duty this year. God was not surprised by these events or any other event in history. I believe It saddened God but did not surprise Him. Every act of evil, every sin saddens God and is an affront to God and His character.

The normal question asked at times like this is “why,” “why him,” “why now?” Neither I or anyone else has the direct answer to those questions. That is left to the knowledge of God. But what I can answer is ultimately God will be glorified through everything. One of Officer Jobbers-Miller’s supervisors reported that since the Officer was shot the Law Enforcement Community has grown much closer together, the community has gotten closer to the Police Department and shown tremendous support. This is something that is needed in most communities in America today. This event has affected many in the community as it does in every community that loses an officer in the line of duty. As a career law enforcement officer and teacher of God’s Word, I know that I may not always understand why events happen, but I remain confident that God knows why and has everything under control. I remain confident in God’s plan, and I know that ultimately God will be glorified in this world.

Ninety-one (91) men and women have given the life in the law enforcement service of the United States this year. Many more in other emergency services as well as our military. Each one sacrificing their lives for others. Each sacrifice should remind us of the one sacrifice above all others, the sacrifice Jesus made so that we could receive eternal life. Remember the men and women who have given their lives for you and respond the sacrifice Jesus made on your behalf. Perhaps one way God is glorified in the death of Officer Jobbers-Miller is in the salvation of men and women, boys and girls in the Fort Myers area.

Please pray for the family of Officer Jobbers-Miller, the Fort Myers Police Department, all Law Enforcement in Lee County Florida. Pray for the community in South West Florida to come together in support of Law Enforcement and work to hold back the evil present in our streets. Pray that God will use the events of the last few weeks to bring glory to Himself. Pray for the salvation of men and women, boys and girls in South West Florida.

My Response to the Parkland Shootings

My Response to the Parkland Shootings

Evil visited Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14. That is perhaps the most overlooked fact of this event. It was not the gun that committed this horrific act, it was the evil in the heart of a young man who had been failed by a system designed to protect him. He appeared to have cried out multiple times to be prevented from committing the very acts he committed on February 14. Evil won out because societal systems did not and possibly could not have prevented the events of February 14th.

The failures in both local and federal law enforcement appear to be the result of the liberal drift in our society. As a 30-year law enforcement officer who for more than 3 years commanded a School Resource Officer program in Public Schools, I am very careful to not criticize law enforcement operations without knowing the facts. I do understand how cries for help fall through the cracks. Particularly with the demonization of law enforcement that has occurred over the last decade. It is reasonable to believe that if local law enforcement were aggressive in dealing with every complaint they receive which claims to know someone will become a school shooter local law enforcement would have been labeled heavy-handed and creating a police state. The critics of law enforcement have the privilege of hindsight to know that the signs seen in the 26 contacts with local law enforcement were accurate. The law enforcement officers making the contacts had no such privilege. It is also safe to assume that all 26 contacts were not made by the same officer. There really is no mechanism to put those 26 disparate contacts together.

There was also a failure on the federal law enforcement level as well. Tips were received on the federal level concerning posts on social media that appeared to have been suggesting school violence. Federal law enforcement reviewed the tips but did not proceed any further. I have heard by pundits on the various news stations that all they needed to do was check their database to determine the IP address of the sender and then check out the sender.  The problem is there is no database apart from on TV shows that contain the IP addresses of every message. Federal law enforcement is required to obtain a subpoena, and in some cases, a search warrant to obtain subscriber information from the provider. Subpoenas and search warrants take a judicial review to obtain and a level of information that federal law enforcement did not have. Could federal law enforcement have done more? Yes, possibly they could have viewed open source information and observed more than what the tips contained. But with thousands of tips every day, hundreds of thousands of tips every year, there simply is not enough time or staff to fully investigate every tip. In hindsight, they should have done more. But the tips received were part of the thousands of tips received and reviewed by federal law enforcement.

The mental health system also failed in this case. The shooter was evaluated by the mental health system, again without the privilege of hindsight. Florida does have a system that allows law enforcement to apprehend and deliver for evaluation those that appear to be a danger to themselves and others. The statute provides for a 72 hour period of commitment to evaluate. But in reality, most are released in less than 24 hours because someone else is waiting for the bed. Funding of these mental health systems is inadequate to meet the need.

The mental health system is also plagued by the liberal drift in our society. The individual rights of a person are greater in many cases than the security rights of the community. Liberal drift has forced the mental health system to release without any supervision all but the worst and most violent people. It has become more important to protect the rights of the individual rather than the security of the community.

What is missing from this situation is a way to fuse all the disparate information together so the true picture could be seen before the event taking place. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks local areas, states, and regional fusion centers were established to fuse data together from multiple sources to reveal patterns that may not be seen when only looking at one piece of data. The fusion centers have had tremendous success in presenting to law enforcement and policymakers a better picture of the situation in their region. But these fusion centers have been criticized by many for viewing data, both secret and open source, and making assumptions from that data that may lead to positive police action without a crime being committed, yet. That is what would have been needed in this case to put all these disparate pieces of information together. A fusion center would have needed access to the mental health records, local law enforcement records, federal law enforcement records, open source social media records and any other data on the shooter. They would then have had to have put the data together and evaluated it. It is a daunting task when terrorism is the target. Now amplify that by thousands, just in the local fusion center, to see before an evil action is committed by the shooter.

Systems failed because the system is not capable of preventing every action. Many events are prevented every day by local law enforcement and mental health professionals. Most often these events are not even made public to protect the privacy of the suspect. The authorities must be right every time, or someone falls through the cracks, and we have a catastrophic event. Most often those who fall through the crack do not commit such horrific acts.

So, I am careful not to criticise to quickly the failure of the system. But I am willing to criticise the armed deputies that remained outside of the school in a defensive position while shots continued to ring out inside the school. To be fair, that was the protocol prior to the Columbine School shooting 20 years ago. Post-Columbine the protocol was to address the shooter as quickly as possible. Particularly with a team of 4 deputies present. A full active shooter formation can make its way to confront the shooter while protecting the formation in all 4 directions. This is the current training in most US law enforcement agencies. Most agencies train on this often and School resource officer every year. The job of a sworn law enforcement officer is to eliminate the threat, even if that means he has to place himself in danger to accomplish that. Praise should be given to the police officers who responded to the scene and entered the school while the deputies waited outside. Even though by the time they entered the shooter had left the campus, they did not know that. They were willing to face danger face to face to protect the students, as they should have as they had sworn to do. What was in the minds of the deputies outside? I don’t know, and until they defend their actions, none of us will know. I suspect the liberal drift played a large part in their thought process. Not wanting to confront and potentially kill a student. The judgment that would be leveled against them over the weeks and months to come on a decision they made in a split second. They waited 4 minutes which will be judged for 4 years and more. The treatment law enforcement has received over the last decade I am sure contributed to their thought process.

So how do I as a Christian, a follower of Jesus, respond to such evil in the world today? I begin with prayer for the victims and their families of this most recent event. I pray that they are comforted by their family and friends and that this event may serve as a vehicle to lead them to Christ. That God would be ultimately be glorified and many would come to know Him through this event. I am also reminded that both the Apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul have told us we are to be in subjection to those in authority over us, even those who carry the sword, law enforcement. We must support local and federal law enforcement. Even after what appears to be a failure of local law enforcement we still are required to be in subjection to the authorities. We should be praying for local and federal law enforcement. Their job is very difficult in the best of times. It is made almost impossible in the wake of such events.

We should also focus on the examples of self-sacrifice seen in this event. The coach who shielded students with his own body. He lay dead, the students unharmed. What a picture of salvation! We must not forget that God is not surprised by these events. He is sovereign and completely in control. We also must not forget that evil is present every day in the world. Law Enforcement confronts evil every day in a physical sense. We as followers of Jesus should confront evil in a spiritual sense. The only way evil will ever be defeated is through the power of God working through us. We must be involved in praying for our local and federal law enforcement. We must be involved in praying and supporting mental health efforts in our community. But we should also be involved in reaching our world for Jesus. That is the only way that we will dent the evil in our communities. Allow events as we saw on February 14 to motivate you to share with your community the only real force against evil, Jesus Christ.

Also, I am speaking now as a retired law enforcement officer, go out of your way to support the COPS when you see them. Thank them for doing a job most would not do. If you see them in line to get a cup of coffee or in a restaurant, pick up the tab for them. The apparent cowardice of some deputies in Broward County will have an effect on every gun toating badge wearing law enforcement officer in the country. As I write this 14 law enforcement officers have been killed so far this year by gunfire. This is 2/3rds of all line of duty deaths so far this year. This is an alarming rate of gun-related death of law enforcement officers. Every law enforcement officer feels the pain of their brothers and sisters in arms being gunned down. So when the combination of the shame of the cowardice and the apparent war on COPS reaches down to the very soul of every law enforcement officer, they struggle with it. They need to feel that their community cares for them and appreciates what they do every day, the evil they face. Consider ways that your church can publicly support local law enforcement, law enforcement day with public recognition in a service. Goody baskets delivered to local stations and precincts.

Above all pray that this event is used by God to ultimately bring glory to Him.

 

Dr. Rich Schnieders

Pastor, Friendship Grace Brethren Church

Major(Ret), Lee County Sheriff’s Office

Las Vegas Shooting, The Churches Response

Yesterday most of woke to the news of another mass shooting, this time in Las Vegas. As First Responders were still treating and securing victims, the casualty number kept growing. Before long it stood at greater than 50 dead and more than 500 physically wounded, thousands emotionally wounded. Stories quickly spread of heroic actions taken by Law Enforcement Officers, Firemen, and Medics, both on duty and off duty. But while these heroic actions were still being made some began to talk about the evils of firearms. Not the evil in the heart of the perpetrator but the evil in the inanimate object used as a tool of evil by an evil man. The firearm(s) used in this attack was no more evil than the cars used in previous attacks, or trucks, or knifes used to kill people. It was simply a tool used by a man filled with evil to do evil things.

I sat for awhile and prayed for the families of those killed, and I prayed for those physically and emotionally injured in this attack. As I sat, I also pondered why so many are willing to call the tool used “evil” and not the man who used the tool. Could it be that in calling the tool evil they are relieving themselves of any potential of evil internally? Could it be that in calling the man who loaded the guns and repeatedly pulled the trigger while aiming at countless victims, evil, they would also be indicting themselves and all mankind with an evil heart? If the shooter is evil than I may have the capacity for evil also?

The reality is that all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. Adam began the descent of man when he willfully rejected God’s Word and direction. He thrust all of his descendants into sin and the need for salvation from sin. God has told us in His Word that we, as sinful men, reject what He has revealed to us in this world. Calling the firearm(s) used to kill unsuspecting victims from a lofty perch evil and not the one who pulled the trigger evil is simply another way to reject God’s Word. It is a failure to identify our universal sinful nature and the reality that this shooting is the result of a sin nature innate in all of us. To be sure most people do not perpetrate such heinous crimes as we saw in Las Vegas this week, but we all possess this same sin nature. Calling the gun(s) evil and not the shooter is simply another way to reject the truth of this sin nature.

We see evil in many forms around the world and throughout history, but all evil is related to the sin nature that we each have within us. It is this sin that will ultimately and permanently separate us from God. It does not matter if it is a small sin or mass murder as we saw this week. Any violation of God’s Word, direction, or commands will result in this permanent separation. But God has provided for us a free gift to escape the permanent separation from God. God provided for the sacrifice of His own Son, Jesus, to pay the price of our sin by His death on the cross. This sacrifice provides for us an opportunity to accept the free gift of redemption which ultimately will provide us with eternal fellowship with God. You cannot earn this free gift, you cannot do it on your own. It is only through the blood of Jesus that you can be saved. Accept God’s free gift today.

As our Country deals with the aftermath of this mass shooting, we should be praying for the families of those killed and for the injured themselves. We should also use this event and events like it to speak about the sinful nature of mankind and the plan of redemption God has provided. Let’s not focus on the “evil” of the firearm(s) but on the evil in the heart of sinful man. The church should be the voice of reason and calm while proclaiming the free gift God has given to us.

God has told us that the heart of man is desperately wicked and that wickedness was prominently displayed by the actions of this evil man on Monday Morning. Politicians will stand and proudly proclaim that the guns committed this crime, but those guns did not commit this crime any more than the carpenter’s hammer built the house you live in. The hammer was simply a tool used by the carpenter to aid in building the house just as the firearms were tools used by the shooter to conduct this evil. This same evil man could have used a truck to kill many unsuspecting people as we have seen in other attacks. We as the church must work to focus attention on the sinful nature of mankind and not the tools used to perpetrate evil. Once people recognize the evil, sinful nature of all mankind, then they will be better situated to recognize the need for God’s gift of salvation. As the church, we need to be engaged with society and to speak of God and His gift.

We should also remember that God was not surprised by this event. God had planned and prepared for the evil of sinful man since before He created the world. The day is coming when evil and sin will be eliminated. We look forward to the day that sin will be removed, but we will only be able to enjoy the removal of sin by accepting His free gift of salvation. As the church, we need to make this our message in the face of the display of such evil. God has not told us why He allows such evil, but we must remain confident in the truth of His Word and the reality that God has provided a solution to the sinful, wicked, evil heart of mankind. Our job, as the church, is to tell the world. Pray for God to use this evil event to ultimately bring glory to Himself.

 

 

Dallas Ambush July 7, 2016

This morning I woke to the news that 5 Law Enforcement Officers were killed overnight in Dallas. As a Law Enforcement Officer for more than 30 years, now retired, I cried watching the news. As an American I sat in unbelief that such an ambush could occur in our country. As a Christian, a follower of Jesus, I was moved with compassion and pain for the families of the fallen. A series of waves of emotion overwhelming me as I watched.

Then I heard the press conference of the Dallas Police Chief. He gave chilling details of the stated intent on of the suspects. The Chief reported that one of the shooters stated he was upset over recent law enforcement involved shootings. He wanted to kill cops especially white cops. Not the officers that had been involved in the shootings earlier in the week that many questioned, but any cop anywhere. Especially white cops.

I began to pull my emotions together a little to think about where our society is today and what we as a society can do about it. My law enforcement background began to rear and my heart was to see cops in every community up arm and go in with overwhelming force and eliminate the group of people that support the false narrative of black lives matter. My thoughts were on retribution and the reestablishment of the superiority of law enforcement. I recalled what a former law enforcement boss said frequently; “Crime will not decrease until being a criminal is significantly more dangerous than being a victim”. I admit my initial thoughts were law enforcement must take back the streets with overwhelming force.

But the Holy Spirit worked in my heart and my emotions. The reality is that the use of overwhelming force would probably accomplish taking back the streets, but is that really the solution to the issue? No, ultimately it is not. We are not going to change our society through the work of law enforcement. Law enforcement will protect society and guard society but it will not really change it. Society will only be changed from the inside out, through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What occurred in Dallas last night is the direct result of a very pervasive ideology and even theology that rejects God and His commands.

Our nation was formed with Judeo-Christian values and principles. But those values have been slowly pushed back from our society. The regression in society began very soon in the new young country. It seems it has accelerated in recent years as we have had an administration in the federal government and in many state governments that push back on the founding Judeo-Christian principles. God is no longer allowed to be a topic of conversation in polite society. Our children are being taught in school that there are no moral absolutes and it is only what society feels is right that is right. With this indoctrination our society has modified what is right, in a very devolving fashion.

We must, as followers of Jesus, return to the proclamation of the standard of truth, the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must not recede from the fight in society because society rebels. We must proclaim the truth of the Word of God with a louder and firmer voice. In recent years many in the church have retreated from this fight. There has been a tendency to weaken the authority of the Word of God so as to not offend society. We cannot do that. We must stand firm on the Word of God and call sin exactly what it is, SIN. We must be the voice of reason and compassion in our society. We must love our neighbor as Jesus commanded us. That means even in the difficult times.

It has taken years for our society to devolve into the condition it is in today. Years of retreat by the church. It will take years of involvement in our communities to change the hearts of society. As followers of Jesus we have indwelling us the Holy Spirit. It is through the church that the Holy Spirit has an influence in the world, but only when we actually engage in our society.

As I watch the news this morning my heart breaks for Law Enforcement. I have shed tears this morning for Law Enforcement. But I also have shed tears because of the church retreating from her role of being salt and light to the world. Rather than desire to see overwhelming force of law enforcement officers coming to the streets let’s all pray that the church brings the overwhelming force of the Holy Spirit to the streets. Let’s all pray that the events of July 7, 2016 serve as wakeup call to the church and her role in society. I pray that the snipers who killed my law enforcement brothers receive the just reward for their deeds. I also pray that the families of the fallen and injured will be comforted. Today is a dark day in American history. But it can also be a day that sparked a great awakening in our society. It looked like it may happen after 9/11 but that soon faded. Please Lord, may it begin today.

Dr. Rich Schnieders

Lead Pastor

Friendship Grace Brethren Church

Fort Myers, FL

Protecting Churches from Gun Violence

The media (including social media) is alive with reports of mass shootings. This reality makes it appear that there is a rash of shootings occurring every day with an increasing trend of occurrence and increasing body count. A survey of various statistical reports reveals that the interpretation of the collected data is not consistent or uniform. One report reveals more than 350 mass shootings in 2015 alone compared to another report indicating 114 over a 10-year period. Clearly the definition of mass shooting is not consistent and the collected data varies according to political leaning and the collection purpose. However, the reality is people are being shot and many are dying at the hands of others via firearms in both criminal actions and terrorist’s activity.

Today, we have greater access to news through TV, radio and the Internet. We no longer need to wait for the morning newspaper or evening news. We now have access 24/7 to the news on our smartphones, tablets, computers, televisions and other devices. This availability certainly gives us the impression that there are more violent events occurring.

With being more aware of the issue comes the increased awareness of our responsibility to protect people while they worship, minister, and study God’s Word in our church buildings and church gatherings.

Many local police chiefs, sheriffs and prosecutors have gone on record advocating civilians with legal firearms and concealed carry permits actively carry their firearms and be prepared to defend themselves and others around them from these mass shootings. The president of the world’s largest Christian university, Liberty University, Rev. Jerry Falwell, Jr., recently urged students, staff, and faculty to carry concealed weapons for their protection and the protection of those around. Many local gun ranges are offering free range time and training to school teachers and pastors who want to carry concealed weapons to protect students and worshipers.

As a retired law enforcement officer who spent more than 30 years with a gun on my side, I understand the sentiment and heart of those advocating that more people carry concealed firearms and stand ready to intervene. But I have concerns and cautions. Carrying a firearm is very large responsibility that many fail to appreciate beforehand. Not everyone is suited to carry the responsibility of the use of deadly force or even the threat of deadly force.

My first concern is sensitivity to our Brethren heritage of observing a traditional “non-resistance” doctrine. For many in Grace Brethren churches, this includes not resorting to resistance in the face of physical violence based upon the words of Jesus in Matt 5:39. While my own understanding of Scripture does not support this position, we must be sensitive to the reality that many do understand Scripture this way. Any church seeking to implement concealed carry of firearms by its members should at least have this conversation and study the relative Biblical passages together.

My second concern stems from the reality that firearms proficiency requires training, frequent practice and repetition. Merely possessing a state-issued concealed carry permit does not mean that the person has the physical ability to shoot properly, accurately, and appropriately or a suitable attitude or emotional stability to use deadly force.

In my home state of Florida, a concealed carry permit holder is only required to fire one round down range without requirement that the target be struck to obtain the permit, simply pulling the trigger in the proper direction is sufficient. Weapon handling and tactical training is not required. Prior to commissioning church members to carry firearms for protection of the church and worshipers, the ability of the people being requested to carry must be assessed. This includes their physical ability to shoot a firearm and their mental ability to shoot, if necessary.

A qualified instructor can assess physical ability at a local range. Nearly every community has them.

Mental ability is more difficult to determine. It may require pastoral staff and/or leadership getting to know the concealed carry parishioners at a deeper level and to know his or her heart. It has been my experience that those who have a boisterous vocal bravado frequently do not make great candidates for the protection of others but they will be the first in line to take such a position.

Another concern I have is with the liability that attaches to the church when church officials request members arm themselves. In our litigious society, it would seem the request for members to arm themselves would attach to the church a liability for any actions those members may take. This liability may be less than the liability of not protecting worshipers, but it needs to be considered. Church administration should also review their insurance policy to ensure they are not violating their liability insurance or their property insurance by requesting members be armed.

Arming of parishioners is not the only thing that congregations can do to offer protection. There are many other things churches can do to provide security without asking the congregation to arm themselves.

The first thing is to take down any sign that would indicate “Gun Free Zone.” That will not stop a criminal or terrorist but it might stop a good guy from being prepared. The majority of mass shootings occur in “gun free zones.” The sign provides no protection; in fact, it may prevent protection.

Ensure that you have immediate communication to law enforcement and other emergency services through land line or cell phone. Should something occur do not be afraid to dial 911, even if you cannot speak. The protocol for most 911 systems is to send law enforcement to investigate a no contact 911 call. Have an elder, deacon or usher (or even several) assigned to make a call(s) should it be necessary. Don’t waste time during an emergency to determine who should call; determine that beforehand.

Prepare an emergency evacuation plan for your facility. Make sure the congregation is aware of the plan and practice it from time to time. Ensure that your leadership is aware of the plan and can lead the congregation in carrying it out. Make certain exits are well marked and not blocked. See that isles are free and wide enough for people to move through rapidly.

Consider the utilization of video cameras inside and outside of your facility with a DVR to record activity. While this will not prevent most incidents, it may very well make it easier to determine what happened and possibly who are the perpetrators. Another good investment is a security system that includes the cameras.

Pastors, elders, deacons, and others in leadership should also be aware of what is going on in the immediate vicinity of the church location. Has violence increased around the facility? Has the neighborhood changed and crime increased? Pay attention to the local news and understand the dynamics of your community. The first person to arrive at the facility to open it for services should observe the facility from the outside prior to entering. They should observe anything that looks out of place or disturbed. The last person to leave should make sure that the facility is locked securely and properly as well as any alarms are activated. A physical check of all doors and windows should be completed prior to exiting the building.

While the threat of violence or terrorism can cause many people anxiety and fear, always remember we serve a great and awesome God. Nothing is a surprise to Him or is outside of His control. Trust God to care for you and your congregation. Have faith in His care for you and know that the potential for you to be involved in a mass shooting or terrorist act is very low and by being prepared, by being observant, and having faith in God to care for you, you will honor and glorify Him, no matter what happens.

For members of churches in the early church age there was a real danger that someone would show up at a service to arrest and execute them. For more than 300 years, the church was illegal and subject to persecution from the government and other religious systems.

While going to church and being a follower of Jesus is not illegal here in the west, it is in some areas of the world. Followers of Jesus are subject to arrest, prosecution, and even death for simply saying they are Christian. We need to pray for those churches and praise God for our own freedom to worship.

We must not allow our increased awareness of terrorism and violence to hinder our worship, fellowship, and ministry. Do not turn your worship center into an armed camp. Take practical and unobtrusive steps to protect your people while worshiping and ministering. For some churches this will mean some people are armed with concealed weapons. For others it will mean increased awareness and other security measures in our facilities. For all of us it will mean we trust God and His plan for us all. —  by Rich Schnieders, lead pastor, Friendship Grace Brethren Church of Fort Myers, Fla.

Dr. Rich Schnieders (Major, Ret., Lee County, Fla., Sheriff’s Office). Dr. Schnieders is lead pastor of the Friendship Grace Brethren Church, Fort Myers, Fla. He has received training from Homeland Security in performing assessments of public buildings and large buildings. He serves on the Social Concerns Committee of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches.

Note: I wrote this article for the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches Social Concerns committee, of which I am a member. This article was also published by GraceConnect.us, the publishing arm of the fellowship.