Implementing Security at Church

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BERLIN TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- Hours after the carnage at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, President Trump suggested the attack may have been prevented if there were armed guards.

Church leaders and law enforcement officials we spoke to don't necessarily agree that's the solution but have taken steps to increase security during worship.

The sign outside the Beach Lake Free Methodist Church says, "We are church-loving," but after Saturday's mass murder at a Pittsburgh synagogue and other deadly attacks like it, Pastor Scott Brodd admits church members are somewhat fearful.

"It's incredibly heartbreaking that this is the reality. This is the world we live in," Pastor Brodd said.

After 26 men, women, and children were killed at a church in Sunderland Springs, Texas last November, Brodd says this congregation took steps to protect one another and developed a security team made up of church members.

"They are responsible for being our eyes and ears and trained to respond in the event of an attacker and get people to safety."

Each time one of these mass shootings happens at a school or church across the country, folks who lead churches and schools look to law enforcement for tips on what they should be doing to make their buildings safer.

"It's a sensitive issue," said Wayne County Sheriff Mark Steelman. "You're at church, don't want to be thinking about things like that."

Sheriff Steelman advised the Free Methodist Church to take the security measures it has and isn't entirely convinced putting guards with weapons would fit a house of worship.

"You don't want to give the presence of a prison atmosphere with armed security guards. It's church," the sheriff said.

"I don't think visibly armed guards is the right response. I believe there are security measures a church can take that are discrete and effective," added Pastor Brodd.

The pastor didn't want to get into specifics about the security team at his church but says having a trained team of church members gives everyone a sense of security without going to an extreme and in turn possibly creating more fear.


  • Lisa Marshinski

    Be aware of your surroundings and have a plan. Criminals don’t obey laws, they don’t care what your gun-free zone sign says, actually, they like them. Make it a priority in your life to know how to protect you and your loved ones. Conceal carry (with practice, practice, practice), pepper spray, a self-defense course if the 1st options don’t serve your taste. Don’t be a victim.

    • Edward Moran

      More importantly, be the light of the world, live the Beatitudes, comfort the afflicted, welcome the stranger, feed the hungry, visit the prisoner, embrace an enemy, knit up the fabric that creates kind and supportive community, foster a respectful national dialogue of support and affirmation. Don’t cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant.

      • jimbrony

        Unfortunately Edward, evil exists and we cannot hug that fact away. You are spot on – spread kindness and empathy, show concern and help others that need it. But be aware of and prepared for the wolves that only want destruction. I’d much rather shake someone’s hand and have a coffee and conversation with them, but I’m also ready to do my best to stop someone from destroying innocent lives.

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