Lawrenceburg—First Baptist Church of Lawrenceburg will host a Sheepdog Seminar addressing the issue of violence aimed at churches on Aug. 12, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
The Sheepdog Seminar, open to other churches in the Lawrenceburg area, will feature Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman and the Sheepdog team of Jimmy Meeks and Carl Chinn, who will lead seminars throughout the day.
The defensive seminars were started in 2009 to help church members prepare for the unthinkable—violence in the local church.
“In 1980, in the church I was married at, a man walked in with four (others) and shouted, ‘This is war,’ and shot 15 members and killed four,” recounted Jimmy Meeks, founder of Sheepdog ministries.
A retired pastor and police officer, Meeks said, “I didn’t think much of that for a long time, but I was about to be awakened.”
More than 725 people have died while on the property of a church or faith-based ministry, Meeks shared. Not all of the acts of violence committed against church members were shootings, he added. Sometimes the acts of violence consisted of beatings, stabbings and sexual assault, he explained.
Since their start in 2009, Meeks said their team has learned of a growing number of sexual assault cases.
Due to growing acts of violence committed against churches, Sheepdog Seminars equip members with tools necessary to prevent both acts of violence and sexual assault in churches.
“It (violence in churches) was certainly never something that I gave thought to while I was in seminary,” said Pastor Bob Ehr, lead pastor at First Baptist, Lawrenceburg. “Churches need to have a plan in place. We don’t need to be obsessed with the idea that a gunman could enter the sanctuary on any given morning, but we should have eyes and ears that are watching for things that could be a problem,” he said.
Acts of violence in churches, such as the one at Wedgewood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, where seven church members were killed and seven more wounded, have increased since 1999.
“That was the church I attended during seminary,” said Pastor Ehr, “I knew some of those individuals. Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine a picture of my former church on CNN with police tape all around it.”
“(Many) Baptist churches are no more prepared to deal with violence than the man on the moon, and there is a severe misunderstanding of scripture that troubles me greatly,” added Meeks, “I would appeal, beg, and plead with my Baptist brothers and sisters, get to this seminar.” (WR)