Arson fires encourage proactive moves by churches

By Donna McCollum - bio | email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The doors to sanctuaries are locked all over east Texas. The Tyler area church fires have clergy as far south as Nacogdoches and Lufkin concerned.

"Our concern is the target is not one denomination or one ethnic group. The target is church," Dr. Bill Gandin, pastor at Nacogdoches First United Methodist Church, expressed.

As a result, ministerial gatherings turn into discussion on how to best protect church property. Some are looking into the idea of working together and sharing the cost of security guards.

Worshipper Claudia Wilson suggests the ultimate in church volunteer work. "I think it would be really worthwhile to have church members do shifts and watch out for the churches."

Dr. Gandin saw that happen around 25 years ago at a church where he previously pastored in Beaumont. A string of fires, similar to the ones in the Tyler area were set along Highway 69." "We had church members stay in the church 24-7 for about three weeks until the person was arrested."

Calvary Baptist Church turns church safety into a mission. Its offering March 4, a free church safety seminar in response to church shootings, fires and child predator concerns.

"We have officers that were in the shootings down in Wedgewood, down in Ft. Worth. We have those in the shootings down in Daingerfield," Pastor Paul Sevar said. "They'll also be dealing with the fires that took place, that are now taking place around the Tyler area."

Anyone wishing to attend can register by calling 936-564-4539 or register on line at

The proactive moves are designed to offer protection, but to what degree becomes the concern. "To sacrifice so many resources could take away from ministry and so whoever this is wins anyway," Gandin said. But hopefully not enough to destroy the spirit of a church.

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