A historic African-American Baptist church in Alexandria, Virginia, received a bomb threat during a Saturday evening worship service, one week after 11 Jewish worshippers were gunned down at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The service, one of four services held each weekend at the 7,000-member Alfred Street Baptist Church in suburban Washington, D.C., was wrapping up when word came that police were outside and requesting all members to remain inside.
“We subsequently found out that some demented mind had called the police and reported that bombs were left at Alfred Street,” Pastor Howard-John Wesley said during a service on Sunday morning.
Wesley, pastor of the church for 10 years, said police first quarantined the church, blocking off nearby streets for a bomb search. Wesley said suspicious packages were found, but he had not been informed whether or not any contained explosives.
“While we were in the building and could not leave, we did what Baptist Christians do,” the pastor said. “We prayed and we sang and we had worship in spite of the threat.”
Aided by church security, police then directed people out of the building for a bomb sweep. No explosives were found inside either the original two-story brick building built in 1855 and included on the National Register of Historic Places or the sanctuary added in 1994.
“The very first thing I stand to tell you is that you are safe this morning,” Wesley, a director of The Lott Carey Global Christian Missional Community and trustee of the John Leland Center for Theological Studies, assured worshippers on Sunday. “There is no danger. The campus has been secured.”
The pastor commended the Alexandria Police Department’s handling of the incident. “It is good to live in a city where we have positive, productive relationships with the men and women of law enforcement, who helped us on yesterday,” he said.
Wesley called whole episode as “a little unsettling.”
“I’ll acknowledge I have slept better than I did last night,” he said. “To think about a threat to our family, a threat against me, it’s not something we take lightly, but God has not given us a spirit of fear.”
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Source: Baptist News