FAIRFAX COUNTY, VA– On Saturday afternoon around 3 p.m., multiple people were injured during a bible study meeting when an alleged member of the congregation, without any warning, stabbed the church’s pastor.
According to ABC News, the incident took place at the Grace Covenant Church in Chantilly, Virginia, which is about 25 miles west of Washington, D.C. Allegedly, a member of the church stabbed the church’s pastor while he was leading a bible study class.
As the incident unfolded, two church members immediately came to the defense of the pastor, including Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler who just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
Chantilly church stabbing:@FairfaxCountyPD taking pictures of the car parked at the entrance of Grace Covenant Church.
— Tom Dempsey (@KCTomDempsey) July 18, 2020
A witness of the stabbing described the chaotic scene:
“He did his part in the moment. Sometimes we can’t prevent injury. I know people were injured, but it could have been worse, I do believe. I think it could have been a lot worse. There are a lot of emotions, but I do have faith that everything is going to be okay.”
According to WUSA9, one of the church members who came to the pastor’s aid as well as the pastor himself were taken to Reston Hospital to be treated for non-life threatening injuries.
Another member of the church who came to the pastor’s aid did not have to be treated as their injuries were minor.
The Fairfax Police confirmed that Chief Roessler helped subdue the attacker, in which he suffered minor injuries. Chief Roessler has 31-years in law enforcement and has been in leadership positions with Fairfax County Police since 2010. Roessler also worked at the most recent presidential inauguration in 2017.
— Darcy Spencer (@darcyspencer) July 18, 2020
Brett Fuller, another pastor at the Grace Covenant Church and chaplain to Washington, D.C.’s NFL franchise, released the following statement about the stabbing:
“Today, in a routine church educational setting, one of our pastors was assaulted by an attendee. Two church members came to the pastor’s aid and valiantly risked their own lives to defend him. In the process, one of our members was injured.”
“The pastor and one of the members are being treated at Reston Hospital for non-life threatening injuries. The other member involved sustained injuries that did not require medical attention. The assailant was taken into captivity at the scene.”
He concluded with:
“We are in prayer for all the injured. We are grateful for the courage exhibited that prevented worse from happening. Lastly, we want to thank the broader community for their outpouring of concerns and support at this time.”
The stabbing incident happened to occur on the same day the church held a special class/bible study for churchgoers.
Catherine McGuire, one of the church members said:
“People who are baptized, people who want to become members and people who want to strengthen their faith are offered these classes. They talk about biblical foundations and what the church stands upon. It gives opportunities for people to share their coming to faith or their interests in the gospel.”
Fairfax County PD are assessing the scene at Grace Covenant Church in Chantilly, VA where two people were stabbed around 3pm in a large space inside the church. Police Chief Roessler subdued the suspect who has since been arrested. @fox5dc pic.twitter.com/CsswAD1jvK
— Ama Arthur-Asmah (@Ama_A_Asmah) July 18, 2020
As community members learned what happened, news of the crime that took place in their church was tough for members to believe. One lady, a member of the church said:
“The people are very friendly and very nice, especially the pastor. It’s really scary. This doesn’t have to happen in church. This is my congregation and I’m very sad.”
According to police reports, the suspect drove an SUV right up to the front entrance of the church, located at 4600 Brookfield Corporate drive and ran inside before the alleged attack. The suspect was a member of the church, but according to pastor Fuller, there was no indication before the attack that the man had an issue with anyone at the church.
Police have still not released any information about the suspect.
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Meanwhile, in California, Gavin Newsom is trying to take church services away from his residents…again.
The California Department of Health has suspended, once again, all indoor church gatherings.
Governor Gavin Newsom made the announcement on Monday, July 13th, 2020, that due to a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, restaurants, retail stores, and hair salons in 29 counties on the states Coronavirus Watch List are being forced to close their doors indefinitely, and that includes churches.
These 29 counties account for nearly 80% of the state’s population. What is frustrating many citizens of California, and across the country, is how hyped the media has made COVID-19.
Every day, news outlets send breaking news reports of how many new positive cases there are, but never release the numbers of how many have recovered.
To date, California has less COVID-19 deaths than the State of Massachusetts and the population of California is more than six times that of Massachusetts.
LESSSSS GOOOO ???????? @ACLJ
— Sean Feucht (@seanfeucht) July 15, 2020
When you look at the infection fatality rate of COVID-19 for the country as a whole, it is on par with that of our seasonal flu, a whopping .65% according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, the numbers are always fluctuating because to find the infection fatality rate you have to divide the number of deaths by the number of infections.
Pastor Arthur Hodges of South Bay Pentecostal Church in San Diego said:
“Churches are not part of the problem. They are part of the solution and while hospitals are treating people with this medical condition, which is needful, the other parts of people’s wellbeing are completely left out. Their spiritual well-being, emotional well-being.
“The Church will not be marginalized any longer. The Church is here to help our society heal.”
CA Gov. Gavin Newsom Shuts Down Indoor Church Services Across Several Counties As Cases Climbhttps://t.co/lEu6v647jt
— Elizabeth Johnston – Activist Mommy (@activistmommy1) July 15, 2020
Legal battles have erupted in states across the country, including California, as churches fight to keep their doors open. From claims of First Amendment rights violations to claims of unequal treatment, religious leaders demand that state and local governments treat churches the same as most businesses.
In late May, President Trump labeled synagogues, churches, and mosques as essential businesses because they provide an essential service: they care for a person’s spiritual and emotional well-being.
As essential as churches are for many Americans, many public health authorities are concerned with the rise of new cases, congregating at places of worship could quickly cause them to become hot spots due to the inability to remain six feet apart, sharing of frequently touched worship aids, or passing of the collections plate.
However, the CDC Guidelines for Considerations for the Communities of Faith lay out specific guidelines to help churches lessen the chance of the virus being transmitted rapidly among congregants.
The question for Governor Newsom is if the expectations for any other business, or organization is to follow the CDC guidelines for reopening, why should churches be treated any differently?
Since Federal district and appeals court judges have previously ruled against California churches, it is highly unlikely the churches will have a fighting chance this time around.
Cornerstone Church in downtown Fresno will open its doors this Sunday for service, despite the latest state orders issued by Governor Gavin Newsom, church leaders say. https://t.co/CjG834VXpk
— ABC30 Fresno (@ABC30) July 15, 2020
The community’s spiritual caregivers will need to get creative in how they guide their congregations and offer spiritual support as this disease drags the US through its fifth month.
Pastor (Cmdr.) David Jeltema, a Navy chaplain at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland said:
“This is a very isolating disease that we’re dealing with. When people are not able to experience things like acts of hospitality, I think they find there is a void in their lives.”
Jeltema recommends someone dealing with a religious void practice yoga, meditation, and handheld labyrinth exercises. Attending virtual services, spending time in nature, or creating small bible study groups are other ways some may find peace.
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