Thursday, March 02, 2006

I'm sure there's a moral here somewhere...

Oh, man. What an adventure! One does not expect to have an adventure at church. Maybe a small mishap, such as spilling communion wine, or a bungle, such as mispronouncing part of a reading, but adventures are not expected at all.

Ash Wednesday service at Grace Church is usually a very simple thing. Some readings, some hymns, the priest marks the people’s foreheads with ashes (which is cute, because she’s short and has to reach up), and then Communion. It usually takes about an hour. I took Tirithien with me, because he liked my church when he came up on Christmas Eve, and the evening services are pretty much the only ones he can get to.

We got there almost late, and sat down in the back pew, but it was taking a really long time for the service to start.

One of the altar servers came in and asked if I would watch her purse during the service, and whispered that some strange guy was wandering around in the back of the church. Then she went back out. A little while later, the parish coordinator came in and apologized for starting late, then asked us all for our safety to stay where we were. It was, of course, the “for our safety” part that freaked everyone out. We were all looking around at each other, wondering what was going on and whether or not we should go out and help, regardless of what we’d been instructed.

So some of the choir members there got everyone singing hymns to calm down and distract. Meanwhile, this guy who absolutely reeked of alcohol staggered in and sat down in an empty pew. The service started, and everything seemed normal, until the guy stood up and started mumbling, “I can’t take this, I just can’t take this,” and staggered back out. Two of the men followed him out, and we could hear them all talking loudly through most of the service. As it turned out, the guy had come in WITH A GUN, brandishing it and demanding food!

Now, I don’t know about you, but if I had been one of the ones out in the lobby preparing for the service, my instinct would not have been at all to invite the drunken gunman into the service with his gun, but instead to distract him while someone called the cops! He was threatening my friends. This is simply not done. But the church leaders, as far as I know, did not call the cops. I am not sure what happened to the guy. I think he just walked away. One of my friends insisted it was just a toy gun, but another said it was some kind of BB gun or pellet gun—something that could still cause damage at close range.

Needless to say, this was a rather traumatic experience, but at least no one was hurt. It was really the most disturbing church service I’ve ever been to, and it’s an experience I hope I never have to repeat!

12 comments:

Tirithien said...

So, this isn't normal Ash Wednesday fare? ;-p

My first thought was someone had been hurt. Then, something about that guy hit me weird. There's something much, much deeper going on there.

Bainwen Gilrana said...

No, really, drunken gunmen are not a normal part of our worship experience.

naneth said...

Thank God no one was hurt, including the drunken man. How scary!

My next thought is that whoever invited him to the service did not realize he had a gun. A drunken man can, indeed, threaten safety with or without a gun.

Again, thank you, Lord, for not letting anyone get hurt. Thank you, SO much.

naneth said...

I will be having nightmares tonight.
___________________________________

When you hear more of the background and details of what happened out there, please share with us, okay?

P.S. I love you both. Gotta say it any time and every time I get a chance. You never know what the next minute/hour/day/week may bring.

Bainwen Gilrana said...

No, they knew he had a gun when they invited him into the sanctuary, because he'd been waving it around out in the lobby. Which kinda really freaks me out. No one from church knows the guy.

Meanwhile, the part of my mind with the warped sense of humor thinks it's hilarious that he came in and demanded food rather than money or valuables. "All right! This is a stick-up! Prepare a potluck, now!"

Beth said...

They knew he had a gun and invited him into a sanctuary full of people?!?

Um, that's messed up.

I'm really glad (obviously!!) you are okay and no one was hurt, but I hope whoever decided to let him in and not call the cops is going to be held accountable - as errors in judgment go, that's kind of a biggie...

Bougie Black Boy said...

This is absolutely crazy. I think you are truly ready for NYC now.

martie said...

Hmmm.....crazy things happen in Detroit too, huh? Not just NYC!

naneth said...

They knew he had a gun and they invited him to join the service.

HOLY #%&!!!! This disturbs me greatly.

Anonymous Assclown said...

Actually, it sounds to me like he needed to be in that service more than anyone else there. The last thing that should have been done would be for him to be turned away.
He was hungry and he needed to be fed - interpret that as you like.

Bainwen Gilrana said...

He was invited in and he was fed. And I would be completely in favor of this if they had first taken away his gun.

Anonymous said...

Bainwen: I hope by now you have corrected your statements. The police were called immediately, and the man was given some crackers. The bb gun was taken away by the police who knew the man. He was invited in to the service when he said he didn't want to go to his mom's and the police indicated he really was harmless and they didn't want to take him in. I had agreed to talk with him after the service, which is what he wanted along with a little food. After talking with the two male parishioners when he walked out and being given a sandwich and milk, he did leave to go to his mom's house. Once the police arrived and took away the gun, we knew he was no danger to anyone and, perhaps, the service would be helpful for him. At any rate, at no time were the parishioners in danger. I wish you had stayed around after the service to learn what really happened before you posted your blog. Your Priest.