The vicious killing of nine people attending Bible Study at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, SC, has created a national concern for church safety. Most churches, as did Emanuel A.M.E. Church, welcome random, unknown visitors.
Do we know who is coming inside church doors? Seldom does the church investigate a new person’s background to determine if the person has been diagnosed mentally unstable, prone to violence, pedophiles, rapists, or has a violent criminal history.
Many large and small churches don’t have external and internal security cameras, metal detectors, armed security guards, or published security policies. Often, children are left alone with volunteers who have not had a background check.
Pastors and pulpit workers are vulnerable to anyone freely entering the pulpit. It is the responsibility of the pastor and church officers to secure God’s sanctuary.
The first step, establish a safety committee to research safety policies for children, women, and church personnel, building security products, and security personnel. Depending on the size of the church, these items are costly, but what is the cost of one life?
The next step, church officers must approve a written security plan to include budgeted funding, development of policies to encompass the process of entering and exiting the church building in case of an emergency, and finally, educating church officers and members about the security plan.
The last step, purchase security products, hire professional security personnel, and train church staff.
One source of training is on Active Shooter Preparedness: www.dhs.gov/active-shooter-preparedness . Homeland Security has a free on-line training course available including a printed certificate.
Contact local policing agencies and recruit church members with policing backgrounds. There are several books on the subject, Church Safety and Security: A Practical Guide Paperback – January 1, 2005 by Robert M. Cirtin.
There are some churches who believe God is all the church needs for protection. Yet, God gives instructions on safety. The Bible says in Nehemiah 4:15-16 “When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his own work.
From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah.”
It’s time to take church security seriously.