Nearly 180 people flocked into the sanctuary of the New Bethel Church here late Saturday afternoon, some of them wearing side arms, many of them saying “Amen,” as Ken Pagano, the pastor, spoke from the sanctuary stage in front of a large wooden cross.
“We want to send a message that there are legal, civil, law-abiding intelligent people who also own guns,” he said in a 90-minute program that was part sermon, part gun-safety lesson and part display of the power of positive thinking. “There is nothing to be afraid of from a legal firearms owner.”
Mr. Pagano was not wearing a firearm. But another pastor — Charlie Hinckley, who has been the preacher at another Assembly of God church until recently and joined Mr. Pagano on the platform — was wearing his .380 Smith & Wesson on the belt of his jeans.