Religious leaders with security plans offer advice to other churches

Religious leaders with security plans offer advice to other churches

ROBERT -  Days and weeks after a South Carolina church was targeted by a gunman in 2015, dozens of pastors, preachers and priests signed up for concealed carry classes across the Northshore.

"Churches used to leave their doors open all the time for people to come in and pray," said Fr. Mark Templet with St. Peter the Aleut Orthodox Church," Now, you have to worry about what kind of people might be coming through the door and what they might do."

After more than 20 people were gunned down in a small-town Texas church, many of those pastors are looking back on that decision with confidence.

"The community has changed and we've had to change with it as far as safety for our people," said Pastor Louis Husser with Crossgate Church of Robert.

While some of those religious leaders have armed themselves at the pulpit, with the required certifications, Husser has created a safety team for his worship center.

"I would encourage pastors to connect with your law enforcement agencies, whether you have some in your church or not," he said. "Get them out there to do that threat assessment and to teach awareness."

Security experts say having a plan doesn't always mean having a gun. It could be as simple as having a greeter at the door looking for unfamiliar faces at every service.

"Meeting and greeting them. Talking with them," said Scott Ard with ASI Services. "If somebody's having a problem, it's a known problem within that group, reach out to that person other than let it stew, or fester and boil."

"It's important to understand all natures of it and all elements of it and put multiple layers in place," said Ard.

For Husser, that also includes faith and prayer for those who have been affected by violence, like the church in Texas.

"That community needs to fill that building full of people worshiping, praying together. It's going to be a long time healing," he said.

And for many others, it'll be a lesson in safety, that Husser says requires everyone to look out for one another.

Security experts say there's also been increased interest in training from whole congregations, schools and private businesses.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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