Saying he’s not afraid to venture into places “where politics and the Bible intersect,” the pastor of a Southern Baptist church located in the Texas panhandle has gained some national media attention for offering state-certified concealed handgun license (CHL) classes as service to the community.
“This is an opportunity to meet a real need in our county,” Brad Foster, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Dumas wrote in the church newsletter. “From the biblical perspective, we are especially interested as men to be protectors of innocents,” Pastor Foster said. “Jesus has a special place in his heart for children and innocents, and that’s an important role we have to play.”
The 10-hour class, to be held March 2 and taught by state-certified instructor Mike Cearley, will be held in the church’s fellowship hall. Cearley said the class would cover all aspects of gun safety and legal guidelines for carrying a firearm for personal and family protection.
Pastor Foster told the Amarillo Globe News the church isn’t making a political statement, “except we don’t mind being associated with being in support of the Second Amendment.”
“The main purpose of this class is to handle a firearm safely and know when to shoot or just be a good witness,” Foster told the newspaper. “There are parameters. You need to now where to carry, where you can’t carry and know you’re responsible for that round.”
In addition to the March 2 course, the church already has two additional CHL classes scheduled, and Foster said more would be held as the need arises.
“I think, more than ever before, I personally am drawn more to our Constitution, and we’re not overtly political, but at places where politics and the Bible intersect, we’re not afraid to go there,” Foster told the Amarillo newspaper.
A graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary who has served the Dumas church for 13 years, Foster described the event as part of a larger effort to break out of old traditions in order “to better represent the Lord Jesus through new and fresh wineskins.”
He said his church has “always attempted to think outside the box as far as what the needs of the community are,” and firearms training fits with that philosophy.
Jim Edlin, Sunday school director at Calvary and an organizer of the class, said more than half the March 2 class enrollees are women.
“Some of them are teachers, and they’re more passionate about it than anyone else,” he told the Amarillo Globe News.
Founded in 1954 with a total membership of 335 and average attendance of 125, Calvary Baptist Church in Dumas is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention and Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.