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Lone Oak church plans gun giveaway as outreach to sportsmen

BY KATHLEEN FOXkfox@paducahsun.com

A Lone Oak Baptist church will host a celebration that focuses on Second Amendment rights complete with the giveaway of guns as an outlet to reach those interested in the outdoors but disengaged in spiritual fellowship.

Chuck McAlister, head of evangelism at the Kentucky Baptist Convention, leads these events called Second Amendment rallies, wild game dinners and beast feasts in what he calls "outreach for rednecks." He will visit Lone Oak Baptist Church for the 6 p.m. Thursday event.

McAlister said the program focuses on the love of outdoor activities and connects those interests with the fulfillment gained from religious life. He emphasized that events target young men and women who are avid outdoorsman and possibly help them make a "salvation decision."

"People enjoy the things that connect them from people who are speaking their language," he said. "We hope that the love of the outdoors will translate to a love of God who made everything."

The former television personality, who hosted "AdventureBound Outdoors" on the Outdoor Channel for 16 years, has been participating in the programs, one or more per week, for 20 years.

He said typical events draw 400 to 1,000 attendees, with several reaching up to 3,000. He speaks about how his zeal for the outdoors began at home with his father and grandfather.

Celebrations typically include the giveaway of 25 handguns, long guns and shotguns, donated by local individuals and businesses. McAlister said although he feels strongly in the right to bear arms, overall there has been some push back from the concept. He encourages church leadership to listen to the opinions of those in the church and in the community before deciding if incorporating guns is the appropriate thing to do.

Pastor Dan Summerlin of Lone Oak Baptist Church said the event's purpose is to draw on the interests of those hunters, fisherman and skeet-shooters who wouldn't normally attend weekly church service. He said the church has received positive and negative feedback regarding the decision.

Summerlin said the Second Amendment dinner is just another in a long list of common-interest programs put on by Lone Oak Baptist including many sports, quilting programs, car shows and a women's ministry.

"This is another way for people to bond, to spread feelings of comradery and for the gospel to reach more people," he said.

He said the guns were donated, not paid for from church funds. Recipients will complete all required federal and state background checks before getting the firearm.

Chance Clanahan, manager at Paducah Shooters Supply, said employees will attend to monitor the guns. Winners will see the gun they will receive, which will be taken back to the store where all necessary paperwork has to be finished.

McAlister held a wild game dinner and Second Amendment rally at Twelve Oaks Baptist Church on New Holt Road in November. Senior pastor Brandt Lyon said the event, which drew about 350 participants and gave away 10 donated guns, went smoothly. He said he received little to no negative reaction about the church's decision.

"It's not about the guns but reaching out to hunters to get people into church and share the gospel," he said. 

He said McAlister used his storytelling ability to weave personal stories with religious sermons to reach those who spend copious free time with outdoor hobbies. Lyon said McAlister also briefly discussed his support for the Second Amendment and the primary purpose of guns for protection.

Pastor Brian Hall of Trinity Baptist Church, on South 21st Street in Paducah, said his church hasn't done anything similar but would be open to participating in a program to reach a different set of potential churchgoers.

"If any hunters and gun owners can come to Christ, then I would say, let's do it," he said.

The celebration at the church on Lone Oak Road is free to the public and includes a steak dinner. The doors will open at 5 p.m. The dinner, which is limited to the first 1,000 people, will begin at 6 p.m.

The program is set to last two to three hours, Summerlin said. McAlister will also speak during the three morning "camo-casual" services on Sunday.

Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.

Comments made about this article - 2 Total

Sharman Booker posted on: Wednesday, March 05, 2014 10:35 AM

Title: Church Giving Away Guns

I cannot imagine that what Jesus would have said if he went into the temple and saw preachers, pastors, teachers, etc., giving away weapons! I thought there was a separation of church and state. Some churches need to have their tax exempt status stopped because of mixing "Second Amendment" rallies with outreach and evangelism. I believe in outreach but this is amazing and not in a good way. Why, with all the shootings in schools and other public places is a church giving away guns. The winner could just as well come to a service and start randomly shooting.

Mark blankenship posted on: Wednesday, March 05, 2014 9:21 AM

Title: Guns and church

Jesus spoke on self protection. He said turn the other cheek. The 2nd amendment has no place in Christianity . That's why we separate church and state . The means do not justify the end. Fishing rods make more sense. "I will make you fishers of men".

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