Anadarko homicide on holy ground puts church in unfamiliar territory

| August 25, 2009

ANADARKO — Historically, the walls of a church have offered sanctuary and protection. So when a pastor is found slain on sacred ground, it puts the church in unfamiliar territory and brings up questions of security.

Police found the body of the Rev. Carol Daniels about noon Sunday inside the Christ Holy Sanctified Church in Anadarko. The crime has shaken the small and lesser- known black Pentecostal denomination.

Ezra Randle, overseer of Christ Holy Sanctified Churches in Oklahoma, said the crime was unimaginable.

"We’ve never lost a pastor like this. It’s pretty devastating," Randle said. "When there’s a tragedy, sometimes people will decide ‘We need to put a stop sign here.’ And so, yeah, it will definitely cause us to look into that."

Randle said he had known Daniels for decades and still saw her regularly. He said Daniels used to work as his assistant when he was a youth leader in the 1980s.

Randle, 50, described her as soft-spoken and gentle.

"She was a very generous person and very soft-spoken and really concerned about people, people’s souls, so to speak, and everything. I just can’t say enough about her," Randle said. "Time and traveling on the road was not an issue, not a sacrifice. It was something she enjoyed doing."

Randle said he thinks she had been making the drive to Anadarko for about five years. She sometimes brought people to her church, where the congregation was small, but would preach even if no one was around.

"Sometimes there might be a visitor or sometimes one of her family members might go with her," Randle said. "But if she didn’t have anybody to go with her, she would go down and have Sunday school by herself and go through the Sunday school lesson at 11 o’clock and sing and have devotion and pray and preach a message."

Pastor Ted Mercer, 55, preaches at Grace Christian Fellowship, three blocks away from Daniels’ church in Anadarko.

"I did know her; I didn’t know her very well. But I had met her on a couple of occasions," he said. "She seemed like a very nice person. The community is just really shocked. Everyone’s concerned and just praying that the person who committed the crime would be brought to justice."

Mercer said the situation has made him think about the security in his own church.

"We’re all concerned about it because our church is only three blocks from her church and you know, you just kind of assume that the person who did this very well may be walking around the neighborhood. It may be someone that we’ve seen or know," Mercer said. "It’s a big concern. You bet it is."

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Category: Church Security

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