Crane Eater Community Church, located on Red Bud Road, has a group of members who are undergoing a 22-hour firearms training and safety course in light of the increase in church violence around the country.
According to Richard Gunderman, a Councilman at the church, the decision was made when a church member mentioned security concerns.
“We had a member express security concerns to a couple of our council men. The member sent a video from the NRA detailing the escalating threat that churches are facing from evil people who want to inflict death on innocent people in large groups, and especially churches, for their conflicting world views,” said Gunderman.
“In accordance with Georgia HB60 Law, our church council had already authorized, in our church by-laws, for individuals with state issued concealed carry permits to bring their firearms onto church property,” said Gunderman. “The council also authorized the use of church facilities for the training exercises by Rodney Smith and Georgia Firearms and Security Training Academy.”
Smith is an NRA certified instructor who also trains police officers. He is approved by the Secretary of State of Georgia as meeting the requirements for Armed Guards or Private Detectives.
The church does stress that it does not have a ‘security team or force’ in place, but other security measures are taking place, such as increased surveillance, awareness, and monitored security systems.
According to the church, unlike Government properties and school systems, it is impossible for churches to conduct emergency drills of any kind, such as fire drills and emergency evacuations due to the nature of church congregations. Because of this, the church council feels it is important to ensure the volunteer staff is as trained and prepared as they can be in the event of any type of emergency.
The live-fire training is being conducted at the private residence of a Crane Eater member, and the church facility is being used for classroom training such as Situational Awareness, Active Shooter, and Room Clearing Exercises.
According to Executive Pastor Paul Gay, the training is strictly voluntary. “It is good people and citizens of Gordon County who are activating their second amendment right to carry firearms as allowed by the state of Georgia,” said Gay.