Churches Re-Accessing their Security Measures

church_safety.jpgPhoto courtesy of christianlegalforum.org

The November church shooting massacre in Texas is “the deadliest church shooting in America.” ~ abcnews.com

In wake of the recent church shooting massacre in Sutherland, Texas that left 26 parishioners dead, including the pastor’s daughter, church security is back in the spotlight. Churches are once again having to make sure they are doing all they can to ensure they have greater security measures in place.

In an article by gospelcoalition.org, it is reported that “there are an estimated 378,000 congregations in the United States, which means the likelihood of any congregation being involved in a shooting in any year is approximately one in 126,000 or 0.0000079 percent.” While the statistics from that article show the chances of being in a service where a church shooting is, “1 in 6,552,000 or 0.00000015 percent,” the news of a church involved shooting still grips the heart and puts church security measures back at the forefront.  

Dr. Aretha Wilson is the senior pastor of Kingdom Ambassadors Global Ministries (KAGM) in Lynbrook, NY.  Dr. Wilson says the recent shooting massacre in Texas was very sad to hear, especially from her seat as a pastor.

“As pastor of a ministry it saddens your heart to hear of this type of tragedy, said Dr. Wilson. “My heart and prayers go out to the victims and the pastor. I can’t imagine losing members in such a tragic way.”

The shooting in Texas is not the first church shooting of this decade. In 2015, a gunman by the name of Dylan Roof, killed nine people, including the pastor, in Charleston, S.C. When you look at both of these church shootings and the nature of how they took place, you have to wonder if churches are vulnerable to these types of attacks and if they have proper security in place. Dylan Roof, an admitted white supremacist, walked freely into a historically black church in South Carolina and fatally shot his victims after sitting with them for an extended period of time. In the most recent shooting in Texas, the gunman, Devin Patrick Kelley, 26 basically entered the small church with his gun drawn, and bullets flying.

“Churches are vulnerable because your guards are down, being that it is a place of worship and compassion,” said former NYPD officer, Shantte Smallwood.  Shantte is also the head of security at her church.  “You become vulnerable because you’re never expecting for someone to come inside a church to take a life or fight someone.”

Dr. Aretha Wilson agreed.  She said, “yes churches are vulnerable, and this recent shooting has made me have to access as a pastor if I have done all I can to protect the members of my church.” 

The type of protection necessary for a church has been an ongoing debate.  Some churches have resorted to trained personnel having guns, while others don’t find it necessary. According to the website debate.org, 49% people voted “yes,” guns should be allowed in church for church security, while 51% opposed.

“Every church is different.  I’m not going to judge you for not choosing to have trained people in your church with guns,” said Dr. Wilson. “I do think guns should be allowed as long as they don’t overshadow the message of God’s love.”

Shantte said these church shootings put you on edge because, “you’re caught unaware and engaging yourself in the service, but you still have to watch everyone.”

Churches have always been considered a place of love and refuge, but they are now having to take a close look at the security measures they have in place.

“You want to make sure everyone returns home safely from church,” said Shantte.

~ Lakisha Bostick

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