The Miami Beach Community Church is now being protected by an armed guard after serious threats were made against its parishioners.
Church member Joseph Jorczak, 34, was taken into custody last week after a two-hour stand-off with police at his apartment. He is facing criminal charges and will undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
“I pray that nothing happens here. We’ve done everything we can do to create a safe community,” said Rev. Harold Thompson, senior pastor at the church.
“I want people to be assured that we are a safe church. People can come worship here. We’ve taken all prudent precautions to make sure that if anything happens, it will be taken care of very quickly.”
Jorczak also posted “chilling” messages on Facebook, promising “Orlando will look small to what is coming.” The social media posts were just some of the latest incidents involving Jorczak, a three-year member of the church.
“He had an incident in January where he became very hostile, agitated, aggressive. He broke into the middle of our 10:30 worship service — shouting at the top of his lungs, screaming profanities, shaking a cane,” recalled Thompson, who said that congregants tried to calm the man down and find out what was bothering him as he circled the sanctuary brandishing a cane.
“Several people were fearful that they were going to get struck with his cane so we called the police,” the minister said. “As a consequence of that action — and some verbal altercations out in front of the church subsequently after that — we had to get a restraining order against him.”
Jorczak also used social media to menace the church. According to police, Jorczak “maliciously harasses, cyberstalks and threatens the Miami Beach Community Church.”
“Orlando will look small to what is coming to Miami Beach, specifically the Miami Beach Community Church,” Jorczak posted. “The homosexuals at the Miami Beach Community Church taught me you cannot trust the LGBY (SIC) community. They are nasty people.”
Rev. Thompson was concerned the threats would go beyond the boundaries of the church.
“That’s more than just hostile aggressive brutal act of violence. That’s specifically focused to an oppressed group of people,” the minister explained. “That threat resonates far beyond our church, and it resonated all throughout the community.”
Jorczak also targeted Thompson’s 20-year-old daughter with sexually explicit posts. “This is not something that a child should experience,” he explained. “She asked a simple question: ‘Am I safe at school?”
Thompson wants community members to feel safe during the Christmas season, especially when they come visit the church’s first live nativity scene.
“I’m very hopeful that people will come by and sing a song, or enjoy the scripture,” he said.