Threats prompt Shawnee United Methodist Church to go virtual Sunday

By Sam Shriver -

SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — Sunday services for Shawnee United Methodist Church went virtual and it wasn’t because of the threat of COVID-19. It was because of threats of a different kind.

An explanation was placed on the church’s Facebook page late Saturday.

“After a day filled with chatter from right-wing groups online threatening UCC, PCUSA, Episcopalian and UMC congregations with violence as part of inauguration protest, we have made the decision at this late hour for Bryan to lead a virtual-only service on January 17th at 11 a.m,” the posting stated.

At 11 p.m. Saturday, pastor Bryan Bucher posted a video expressing his concerns about what’s going on around the nation.

“There is a lot of chatter online right now among QAnon theory groups, white supremacist groups, all matters of fringe, you know, some of these fringe elements that help create the situation at the Capitol last week. There were a lot of threats that are being made toward mainline denominational churches,” Bucher said. “Never in my life had I contemplated contacting people who I knew who had concealed carry weapon permits and ask them to bring their weapons to church as a means of trying to protect our congregation.”

Bucher wanted to make sure everyone was safe.

“We just felt like it was better to, to just not show up in person with the inauguration coming up Wednesday and threats of violence all over the internet and the FBI had effectively contacted leaders in the denomination to warn them of this potential action. It’s being threatened all across the country,” Bucher said.

Bucher said it was a really sad time in the life of our country.

“I think this is the saddest thing that I’ve ever had to do as a pastor. If there’s anything we learn in this kidney stone of a year is that the church truly is not a building. It truly is not a steeple. The church is the people. We are the church. You are the church. I am the church. We are the church together, and whether we worship in person in a building or out in a parking lot, honking our horns, or if we’re worshipping from our homes or if we’re standing in a field or wherever we might be we can be all over the world and join together and sing praises to our Lord Jesus Christ and pray for a better world and pray for peace and ask for Jesus guidance and guidance of the Holy Spirit and not being in a building, does not limit that,” Bucher said.

By Sam Shriver

Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.

Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.

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