ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — A Twin Cities pastor is delivering his congregation life-saving lessons in a way people might not expect.
Shawn Moore is the pastor at the Beloved United Methodist Church in St. Paul. On Sundays, he leads worship.
But on Saturdays, he conveys a message that packs a punch. WCCO’s Jeff Wagner learns a lesson in protection in this week’s Finding Minnesota.
If a pastor is like a shepherd, the congregation is his flock. Pastor Shawn Moore tends to them with words, using passages from the bible.
“God doesn’t want to hide from you, God is not hiding from you at all,” Moore said.
And from his heart.
“I think a major part of the Methodist tradition, the faith and theology, relates to social justice,” Moore said.
At his church – The Beloved – he encourages people to be spiritually great through scripture and sermons.
“And then downstairs we say a way to be physically great is to learn how to defend yourself and stay in shape,” Moore said. “There is no self-defense without fitness.”
In the basement of his church, Moore runs a monthly self-defense class. With the moves derived from a fighting style, named Krav Maga.
“We are training to attack vulnerable points on the body to where the attacker won’t want to engage in any more of the aggression,” Moore said.
He puts his students in real-life scenarios, like getting grabbed from behind at an ATM.
“This form of self-defense we want to use one or two techniques, incapacitate the person and go home,” Moore said.
It’s the type of training Damon Drake felt he needed.
“It makes you feel more confident so for me, I feel like if these different scenarios happen in my daily life, I’d be more prepared to be able to protect myself,” Drake said.
And because he wants his children to share that feeling, both he and his wife take the class.
“Because like you never know if someone could be just behind you and then bam you’re knocked out,” Nusaybah Drake said.
Watching Moore teach in full protective gear, it’s easy to forget he also wears a pastor’s collar. But it’s the uniforms he used to wear that allow him to teach people how to fight back.
“So right out of high school, joined the Navy,” Moore said.
Years later, he became a defensive tactics instructor for the security team at the Mall of America.
“Did that for seven years and then I was a cop for the city of Brooklyn Center,” Moore said.
But somehow, Moore wanted more.
“I’ve got this skillset of law enforcement, security, what else do I have a passion about? And it was religion and so I went and got a four-year degree in ministry,” Moore said.
“It is a part of my life every day,” Jessica Moore said.
As a pastor’s wife, Jessica Moore is by his side in the pews and his class. And appreciates her husband’s ability to blend both of his worlds.
“It’s a blessing in disguise,” Jessica Moore said.
Their differences are striking, but Moore’s passion bridges the gap.
“The common theme between all of that and the church is the idea of protecting others. I love to teach and I believe that people need protection,” Shawn said.
“I think it’s a part of a new way of thinking that probably more churches and mosques and synagogues will be doing more of in the future,” Drake said.
But those other places of worship likely don’t have a spiritual leader with Moore’s expertise in protecting his flock.
Pastor Moore offers his classes for a small fee, or for free if the participant can’t afford it.