Churches Re-Accessing their Security Measures

church_safety.jpgPhoto courtesy of

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

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, 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, 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

Another Side of Victory

This is Lori Wright’s story of triumph and victory after the devastating loss of her father-in-law, well-known gospel singer Reverend Timothy Wright, mother-in-law Betty Wright, and her son DJ in 2008.  Today she is moving forward and using the traumatic experience to give back to others and honor the legacy of her son through the “DJ Wright Memorial Scholarship fund.”

Lori plans to host the scholarship fund on an annual basis, and has set aside part of this year’s proceeds to give to students and their parents in Texas, who suffered great loss after Hurricane Harvey. If you’d like to donate to the DJ Wright Memorial Scholarship fund, click here.

Lori is the mother of two other boys, Deion and Dylan. She is also an author, singer, motivational speaker, and most recently a fashion designer.  Lori just started a new clothing line this year for little boys called DABI.


Also, look out for Lori’s new book and single entitled, “Another Side of Victory.” In Lori’s words: “I am another side of victory!”

Parenting Young Athletes

The Elmont Panthers youth football team are seen in a huddle during a game on Sept. 24, 2017. (Photo by L. Bostick)

If you look throughout local community parks, school fields or recreational facilities, you will be sure to find some sort of youth sports league having a game or practice. According to the Pew Research Center, children between the ages of 6-17 are involved in some form of extracurricular activities, with athletics being the most popular.


At the age of just nine or 10, some athletes can be required to practice three days a week. In order for these children to make practice on time and get their school work done, their parents have to be involved. However, commitment is a “two way street” between the child and the parent.

“Parents certainly play a vital role in managing young athletes, however it is a two way street that can lead to problems if they are OVER eager (or even over committed) to their child’s development in sports,” said SPORTIME Lynbrook regional director, Jason Wass.

Trayshawn Hayes is the mother of two young athletes. Her 11-year-old son has been playing football for the past five years, and her 8-year-old daughter is going on her third year of gymnastics.

She says her children know that playing a sport “is a privilege and a commitment,” and Hayes agrees, that it takes prioritizing and “time management” to keep these young athletes focused and ready to compete.

“As soon as my son gets home from school he has to do his homework immediately.  He knows school is number one. If he has a lot of homework, there is no practice that day,” says Hayes.  She says the same thing goes for her daughter.

Andrea Summers agrees. “School is first, football is secondary.”

Andrea is the mother of 11-year-old Joseph Summers, who plays football for the Elmont Panthers on Long Island. While she thinks it’s very important to support her son at every game, her son thinks otherwise.

“I don’t like support at the games. It’s embarrassing,” says Joseph. “My mom’s very loud.”

Joseph has been playing sports for three years.  He started out playing soccer, but now he’s on the football team.  Whatever sport he decides to play, his mom and brother are right there to support him.

The commitment for these young athletes may be overwhelming at times, but there are great health benefits to playing sports.

“Regular physical activity benefits health in many ways, including helping build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints; helping control weight and reduce fat; and preventing or delaying the development of high blood pressure,” (GAO, 2012).

Andrea says she knows that physical activity is great for her son Joseph, who is more on the husky side. During the football season, she notices a big difference in his desire to even be active.

“When he’s not playing football he goes right back to being sluggish. However, during football he loses a good amount of weight, 15-25 pounds because he’s playing something that he loves” says Andrea.

According to Jason Wass of SPORTIME, he finds “that it is much easier for youngsters to get in and stay in shape than adults. Setting up healthy habits for exercise (along with nutrition and other lifestyle choices) are easier when they grow up in that environment.”

Coach Shadu Branch has been part of a team of coaches for the Elmont Panthers for five years. This year he is coaching the nine and 10-year-olds. His son plays on the team and he agrees that being a sports parent can be expensive, so make sure the sport they’re playing is something that they love.

“It’s very expensive,” says Coach Branch. As parents, Branch says, “we have to take it pace by pace” with young “student-athletes.” He advises other sports parents to ”make sure it’s something they want to do.”

Andrea Summers and Trayshawn Hayes said after the focus education is clear, they want to make sure their children “have fun.”

Elmont Panthers youth football players all smiles after a big win on Sept. 24, 2017. (Photo courtesy of L. Bostick)

“I think it’s horrible when parents talk down to their children,” Summers said during a recent game.

“Moms and dads during the game have to allow us to do our part,” Coach Shadu said. Shadu says trust is important. “It’s hard for a child to figure out at a young age who to listen to, coach or parent, so parents have to trust us.”

Wass said it best, managing young athletes on and off the court is a “two-way street.” However, Trayshawn Hayes suggests not putting the child in sports in their priority is not school.