Rocky Mount United Methodist Church in Jemison Alabama has opened a gun range directly behind its sanctuary in effort to educate its members about gun safety and reach out to the community in the process.
“Really, the whole purpose of this range is to provide recreational and gun safety in a warm, loving, Christian environment,” the church’s pastor Phillip Guin told the Clanton Advertiser. “We wanted to come up with some different ideas to help our church grow, and we thought this would be a unique ministry to offer to the community.”
After the range opened, the church formed the Rocky Mount Hunt and Gun Club LLC, a separate, membership-only, not-for-profit group. To use the gun range, people must be members of the gun club or be guests of a member.
The Jemison Police Department even used the gun range to provide firearm training through annual Citizens Academy, Guin said.
“There are a lot of people that are interested in enjoying themselves in a safe fellowship environment with a gun,” Guin told Mashable. “This is not anything about some radical form of militant Christianity. It is a bit unique out of the box as church ministry goes, but we see it no differently as a church having a softball team or hosting camping ministries.”
Guin said that criticism of the gun range is unwarranted, and that the purpose of the range is sincere and pure.
“The ministry itself is what we’re doing in the name of Jesus Christ,” he told a Mashable reporter. “It does happen to involve guns, but we don’t want it to sound as though we’re forming some kind of weird cult that revolves around guns.”