On Sunday mornings, while members of the congregation at the Faith & Power Worship Center in Apopka close their eyes and bow their heads in prayer, one man keeps his head up, his eyes open.
He is Minister David Sepulveda. And he is armed.
“It’s not there for everyone to see,” he said, “but it’s there.”
Sepulveda is the “armor bearer” of Senior Pastor Matthew Shaw. An armor bearer — a Biblical reference to the one who carries the spear and shield of a warrior — is traditionally the person in the church who assists the pastor in everything from adjusting the temperature in the sanctuary to picking up visitors at the airport to running interference for the minister.
But the armor bearer’s duties also have, in recent years, come to include protecting the safety of the pastor. When a gunman burst into the Greater Faith Christian Church in Lakeland last Sunday and shot pastor William Boss and associate pastor Carl Stewart, the two men who subdued him were described as armor bearers.
“If it came to that point, then the armor bearer is the last line of defense before they get to the pastor,” said Shaw. “As long as he is on duty, he needs to have his eyes open and seeing what is going on in the house. He keeps his eyes on the pastor.”
Sepulveda’s day job is working as an Orange County deputy sheriff. But on Sundays, for the past 10 years, he has been the spiritual bodyguard of Pastor Shaw. During the service, Sepulveda is seated behind Shaw, his attention directed at the congregation in the pews.
“I’m looking for new people coming into the sanctuary. I see what clothing they are wearing, if they have their hands in their pockets. I look at their ankles — a bulge could be firearm,” said Sepulveda, 46, who has served as an armor bearer for more than half his life.
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SOURCE: Orlando Sentinel