by Sheilah Belle
My heart really hurt yesterday, when a friend of mine, shared this post about her time during 11am service at her Henrico church. In a nutshell, a white man, who was not a member of this church, entered the sanctuary with a pitbull, then unleashed the dog. He positioned himself on the last row of the church, and then allowed his dog to sit next to him in a seat.
Needless to say, but those sitting in the church service, became distracted, uncomfortable and felt a bit violated.
Here’s Antoinette Essa’s story and how it all ended.
“Service/Church should not be scary but today it was for me and the other members of a small African Church. I was there as a visitor for their Congregation Appreciation Sunday. During the praise and worship time a man who was not a member nor a visitor with good intentions entered with a pit bull, the dog….was not a working dog even though the man said it was.The man wasn’t blind either, even though he said he was, he entered being disrupted and sat in the back of the church, he became very loud and unleashed the dog but kept him on a seat next to him.
Members of the church tried talking to him to get him to put the leash back on the dog (most of the children and young people sat in the back) but he refused and was not cooperative.
At that moment my sense of security was threatened. I walked out of the church and attempted to call the police but someone else beat me to it.
Henrico Police arrived and when the officer approached him, he would not comply creating more tension in the church.
The officer eventually got him out and I found out later that he was arrested.
To say that the members of the congregation were scared, that I was on edge, and that my sense of security has been violated, is an understatement.
My thoughts went to the Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina and I believe within my heart, my instinct, my common sense told me he was there to cause harm to the worshipers.
I am grateful that there were brave men there to take charge of the situation and the police was there within minutes to diffuse the situation.
It’s sad that we can’t even attend service, that the one place where we can go to find peace and feel safe has now become another spot to be cautious of. Service/Church should not be scary but today it was for me.”
Let’s stay prayerful people as we just don’t know what a day will bring.