Church Security

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Baptist Believer, Jul 11, 2002.

  1. Baptist Believer

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    I want to apologize to everyone here for not responding to quite a few posts over the last few days... I've been extremely busy helping put together a security committee for our church. I should be caught up with everything and everyone by the weekend, the Lord willing.

    I want to ask for your advice and the wisdom of your experience in a matter that most churches have ignored too long. As many of you know, I live and serve in Fort Worth, Texas and there has been a number of problems and incidents involving churches in the last few years. Our church has put together a security committee this week (voted on the members last night) in order to be better prepared for potential problems. The three major issues we have had to deal with in the past three years are:

    1) A serial rapist attacking women in the neighborhood who has yet to be caught.
    2) An individual or individuals who have recently begun invading Baptist worship services in the area and disrupting the services.
    3) The potential for another mass shooting in a worship service like what happened to Wedgwood Baptist across town (some of our church members were there and the tragedy hit Fort Worth Baptists especially hard -- we all know and serve together in an unusually close fellowship, especially after the Wedgwood murders).

    We are also very concerned about the possibility a child molester might get into a leadership position (nothing has been reported, but we are not so naive to believe it can't happen) and have implemented some screening and accountability procedures to make it more difficult for a molester to go unnoticed.

    Our committee will have its first meeting soon and I am planning to bring some ideas to the table to discuss (I know quite a bit about security concerns because of previous employment), but I am very interested to hear what other churches have done to safeguard their members and the children in their custody.

    A couple of questions:

    1.) Do you have a formal safety and security plan for your church?

    2.) If so, how were the procedures developed?

    3.) Do you allow concealed firearms in your church? (Texas and a few other states allow concealed weapons except where signs are posted prohibiting them.)

    4.) Do you have some sort of panic alarm system or security codes or code words to indicate emergency situations?

    5.) Do you employ security officers or off-duty police officers to monitor your parking lots and entrances/exits.

    6.) What legal issues have you had to deal with while developing you security plan?

    7.) What is your philosophy regarding a security plan for your church?

    8.) What security procedures have been successful in your situation that others may find beneficial?

    9.) Have you had a major security problem at your church in recent memory?

    10.) I'm sure many of you know some of the details regarding the murders at Wedgwood Baptist Church on September 15, 1999. In your opinion, could Wedgwood Baptist Church have done anything to protect themselves?

    I just want to emphasize, this is not a panic situation, but a nagging conviction that a number of us have felt over the past month to make our church facilities as safe as possible for those who worship with us without turning the property into an armed camp.

    [ July 11, 2002, 08:54 PM: Message edited by: Baptist Believer ]
     
  2. Clint Kritzer

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    No, but it sounds like a very prudent idea, especially in an urban area.
    I would have absolutely no problem with it whatsoever as long as it is within the laws of the state and city.

    [ July 11, 2002, 10:22 PM: Message edited by: Clint Kritzer ]
     
  3. SaggyWoman

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  4. LadyEagle

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    The Lord had put this security issue on my heart a couple of months ago. In mentioning this to several pastors I know, they immediately recognized it as a message from the Lord and they are putting plans in place in their churches. It could be likely we see some issues arise in the coming months in our country, similar to what is being seen in Israel now. Larger city and suburban churches could be at greater risk for security issues than smaller churches...anywhere there are large crowds.

    Ushers and greeters now have a more prudent responsibility. Doors that are not attended by ushers or someone, should be locked at all times. Some places have a direct phone line situation which is like a panic button to local law authorities (hospital emergency rooms have used these systems for years). Concrete/steel buffers need to be installed (those concrete pole things that are in front of Federal Buildings) at entrances as deterrent.

    Security cameras could be installed to view church parking lots, especially for times during the week. Night lighting in parking lots needs to be enhanced. Fire extinguishers need to be updated. Most places require smoke detectors - batteries should be kept fresh. Exit signs need to be clearly marked & lit. Fire safety exit only doors need to be clearly delineated. Regular congregational members need to be furnished with fire or emergency exit plans.

    It is always a plus to have doctors and off-duty police officers in your services! [​IMG]

    This is the Holy Spirit working in us, laying this same security message on many hearts at the same time in various locations throughout our country. We need to listen to that still small Voice and take the necessary precautions. All churches who consider these issues & get plans in place are being wise as I believe this is definitely the leading of the Holy Spirit for the times we now find ourselves in. [​IMG]
     
  5. Robert J Hutton

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    Warm Christian greetings!

    I was concerned to read of murders at Wedgewood Baptist Church. I live in England and had not heard of this before. Can anyone tell me what happened?

    In this country we have probably the tightest gun control laws in the world but it would be difficult to prevent a situation where a nutter with a sword/knife runs amock in a church. This actually happened in a church in Southern England; I don't think anyone was killed but some were badly injured.

    I think it is virtually impossible to guarantee absolute security as a church, by its very nature, is an open building; however, I appreciate that one needs to be vigiliant.

    Kind regards

    Robert J Hutton
     
  6. Optional

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    BB,
    I think everything you are considering is legit. Our church has just recently started discussing such issues.
    Concealed handguns are OK at our church - in fact encouraged by our pastor since Wedgewood. I think if a couple of members of Wedgewood would have had their firearms things would have turned out differently.
     
  7. Baptist Believer

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    Okay, but this may be more than you wanted... [​IMG]

    On the evening of September 15, 1999, a gunman entered the building of Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth firing over 100 bullets into a crowd of 400. He also throw a pipe bomb into the balcony, but it was so poorly designed it came apart without causing any problems (a police officer friend of mine was a first responder to the shooting and gave me details on the bomb). Seven people were killed and seven were injured before the gunman took his own life. (An unarmed teenage boy confronted the man and commanded him to stop killing and the man shot himself -- something that is not well reported, but Pastor Al Meredith told me about it when I was interviewing him for the local Fort Worth city magazine.)

    The event at Wedgwood was a "See You at the Pole" rally where students were celebrating the mornings prayer session around their school's flagpole and were being encouraged to share the gospel with their fellow students through the year. There was a local Christian rock band there and posters had been placed all over town. The gunman probably saw one of the posters and went to the church following the directions on the poster. (Wedgwood Baptist is located in the midst of the Wedgwood housing development neighborhood -- not on any major roads. (If fact, the streets of Wedgwood all begin with "W" and curve in many directions in order to diminish traffic and discourage people from cutting through the neighborhood to get from one place to another. The gunman knew exactly where he was going.) The gunman lived in Forest Hill, a small city in the Metroplex about 7-8 miles from Wedgwood Baptist. He was from a Church of Christ background and apparently had suffered from some emotional problems for years. Before he left home to murder people at Wedgwood, he filled his toilet with cement and poisoned all of the trees and flowers in his yard (the yard work was his chief hobby). As far as anyone can tell, he had no connection with the church. I've heard an unsubstatiated report that his recently deceased father had dated a woman who had attended Wedgwood Baptist Church at one time, but as far as anyone knows, he had never personally attended there.

    My theory of the shooting based on first hand accounts and personal observations in the building a few days after the murders:

    1. When the gunman entered the sanctuary, he was shouting curses about Baptists. (Later his ramblings were interpreted by many to be against Christians in general, but I know people who were there and they say they had more to do with Baptists than just Christians.)

    2. He fired over 100 bullets but only hit 14 people -- most of the bullets hit the instruments in the building. The guitars on the stands, the amplifiers, the organ and the drum kit took most of the bullets.

    3. He was mentally unstable and had a Church of Christ background.

    4. The posters widely distributed around Fort Worth featured the local rock band.

    It seems to me that the mentally disturbed man was venting his rage against Baptists allowing instruments in worship. Of course, trying to sort out the twisted motives of someone like that is not especially useful, but it does give some explanation for what happened.

    The church before the shooting was a good place to be. I had many friends there and they were growing and doing lots of good things. I nearly joined on two separate occasions, but I sensed the call of God elsewhere both times. Pastor Al Meredith is a fine man and one of the few pastors in the area that I can readily endorse. (But that does not mean I support his Calvinist leanings -- he has been heavily influenced by Spurgeon and his theology.) The church has recovered very well from the murders and the building shows no trace of the destruction of over three years ago. (Local churches, as well as many throughout the country, donated money to pay for repair of the facilities and local craftsmen of all denominations -- and some unbelievers -- donated their time and expertise.

    After the splintered pews and bloody carpet was removed a few days after the murders, the survivors returned to the sanctuary and wrote messages of hope and thanksgiving on the bare slab. Many of them expressed forgiveness for the killer. As I walked through the aftermath reading the messages of grief, hope and forgiveness, I realized that God was using this evil for good. Fort Worth churches, especially Baptist churches, are closer than ever and many people have come to know Christ through the aftermath of that horrible evening. And instead of seeking a bigger church through his newfound fame, Al Meredith has continued to serve Wedgwood Baptist Church faithfully.

    I found a link to the local newspaper's website that still has the webpages that they established on September 16, 1999. You can get more information here:

    http://www.star-telegram.com/specials/99fwshoot/

    [ July 13, 2002, 03:02 PM: Message edited by: Baptist Believer ]
     
  8. Baptist Believer

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    The only concern I have about handguns is that I will probably one of the people confronting troublemakers. If I have to physically take one down, I don't want to get shot by a fellow church member in the confusion. If someone is just trying to disrupt the service, a handgun is overdoing it as a response. But if while I am trying to disarm the situation though confrontation and giving a "no trespass" order, that person reaches for a weapon, I want to have the freedom to move forward on them to take them down before they use it. (Most people run away which is usually much more dangerous... you have to immediately take control of the person to prevent the weapon from being used -- I've had lots of training and some real world experience in this.) I'd hate to get shot while doing it. (I'm 6' 05" with a large frame and weigh about 280 lbs, so I'm a very big target :D )

    It could have... Although there was a sense of disbelief at first because some thought it was one of those "skits" that some churches like to do. Most of the people in the sanctuary were youth and would not have a concealed handgun permit.

    We are definitely going to discuss a policy regarding handguns. Some of us may even take the concealed handgun course so we can legally add that protection ourselves.

    Thanks!
     
  9. Headcoveredlady

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    How does carrying a handgun match up with Jesus teaching in Matthew 5?

    HCL
     
  10. Ernie Brazee

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    In the turbulent 60s we had an alert telling that the weathermen were coming to town. This was a"non-violent" group of freedom fighters who had a reputation of torching churches. we over reacted and had men armed men sleeping in the church. A few years later in hit home how foolish we were. Why? Well, whose church is it? Is God willing and able to protect us? Are we to suffer for Him? The early Christians died for their faith without defending themselves can we do any less?

    In 1997 the Lord saw fit to destroy our church with a flood, now we have a better, larger building and are stronger than before because we had to by faith trust God for a new buliling. We had no resources but the Lord.(Hmmmm! do we really need more?)

    No we have no armed personnel on our property, but then up here in the frozen North we don't have the threat that the larger populated areas have.

    At our church camp we have men patrol the grounds during the service to discourage theft by passers by, but they are unarmed and trust their visiblity will be enough of a deterrent.

    Should someone come in shooting some us would surely be harmed in some way, but we trust the Lord to have a purpose in this.

    We have had a young man who killed his best friend in an argument get saved so who knows maybe the person doing the shooting would see true Christianty in action and be moved to salvation. One can only hope and pray! God's ways are not our ways.

    Ernie
    Ernie
     
  11. Clint Kritzer

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    It matches VERY well with His words in Luke 22:36!
     
  12. Optional

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    A legitimate concern indeed. However, anyone carrying a handgun should be licensed and fully trained in it's use. You have more to fear from the gunman coming in the church than the member carrying.
    As for "put your trust in the Lord," I do. However, I don't pray for healing for my deteriorating eyesight as glasses have been invented. Likewise, I am not instructed to be a lamb for slaughter as Clint pointed out. Trusting the Lord does not equal inaction.
    And noone's sleeping at the church. ;)
     
  13. HankD

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    Dear HCL,

    Jesus said to turn the other check because a slap in the face is not life threatening.

    The NT Scripture approves of violence to stop the violent.

    Romans 13:3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
    4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

    If the church appoints an individual (preferably a member who is a police officer) to protect and serve during a church function he/she is (imo) within the allowable limits of scripture to "bear" a modern weapon and use it against "him that doeth evil".

    HankD

    [ July 14, 2002, 10:58 AM: Message edited by: HankD ]
     
  14. AF Guy N Paradise

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    This is all so sad, but at our church in Hawaii, we have two men every service out in the parking lot doing security patrol. We did this ever since we had a vehicle stolen and a car jacking right in our church parking lot. We haven't had a problem since we put two guys out there. Our job is to basically walk around and make sure everyone's car is ok and walk the ladies back to the car at night. Our church is in a rather seedy area in Honolulu right near the International Airport. We have no guns, but since our church is about 75% military, we know what to do. We do have radios, and security cameras everywhere. Since we have several volunteers, I only have to do this duty once every month or two.

    I was in nearly in shock when I saw this when I first arrived, but now just use to it. What is this world coming to?

    Aloha!
     
  15. Jesusinme

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    I am in shock just reading these reply"s?

    I had no idea that it was that dangerous over there? I live in the suburbs of Stavanger and I can leave my bicycle by the bus stop and expect too see it when I get back. It looks like most of you cannot go to church without wondering if someone will shoot you or not? Is it realy that dangerous that you need to carry guns in church? Maybe you should buy a metal detector like they have at the airports?
     
  16. AF Guy N Paradise

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    Well, I am lucky here in Hawaii as most of the crime over here is just thieves. You really don't hear a lot of people getting shot and murdered over here, but the crime is horendous! You can't ever park your care anywhere and walk away from it with valuables inside or they may get stolen.

    I agree it is too bad over here and I am embarrassed to serve my country and call this the greatest country in the World, but yet in some places I would never let my wife or kids walk alone.

    A lot of our problem is our laws. Sometimes I wish we would have a Saudi Arabia or Singapore mindset where crime really doesn't pay or you will get a hand chopped off or be caned a few times. Isn't it amazing that crime is nearly non-existent in these places?

    [ July 14, 2002, 08:58 PM: Message edited by: AF Guy N Paradise ]
     
  17. AF Guy N Paradise

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    Tonight was the night I had church security patrol in the parking lot during the week of our revival. It figures that I heard the message was a great one so I will have to get it on tape.

    BTW, nothing unusual happened tonight just a few bugs and mongooses, no harm done to cars, etc......
     
  18. Ernie Brazee

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    Jesusinme,
    Some people over react, it is not as dangerous in America as would make it sound.

    Of course we live in rural America so maybe our threat is less. Even is the large cities they are not yet attacking churches on a regular basis. Perhaps it is the Rambo mentality of some to carry guns in church, and not let the Lord have his will in the matter.

    Just finished reading a book about the inquisition, Baptists then refused to take up arms to defend themselves. The result was many died, but at the same time many were saved. What a privilege to be found worthy to die for Christ that others may live eternally.

    Ernie

    [ July 17, 2002, 08:34 AM: Message edited by: Ernie Brazee ]
     
  19. AF Guy N Paradise

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  20. Optional

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    I have carried a firearm for over 20 years. I have yet to pull that firearm except at target practice. A desire to protect myself and innocents is not a Rambo mentality.
    And do you seriously think it was God's will those people die at Wedgewood? That some nut walk into a church and loose 100 shots, killing 14 people?
    I believe that would be more in line with Satan's will.

    An aside to BB:
    I suppose you read about the latest church breakin there in Ft. Worth. They were talking about all kinds of new security measures.
    What does that make? Something like 12 breakins in the last 4 months?

    [ July 17, 2002, 06:33 PM: Message edited by: Optional ]
     

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