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Churches debate security question

Posted at 6:49 PM, Jan 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-03 05:27:06-05

LANSING, Mich. — Security is on the minds of many pastors and churchgoers after several deadly shooter situations over the past years.

The most recent being the shooting in a Fort Worth-area church Sunday morning in Texas. The gunman killed two members of the congregation before security killed him.

It's raising an important question: Should more churches implement such safety measures?

David Nelson of Kingsmen Private Security Consulting in Mason said that this is a serious conversation every pastor should have.

Nelson helps churches start a security team from the ground up.

"Our program is reality-based so it requires you to move. You're going to chase a shooter down. You're going to guard people. You're going to evacuate."

He said that the calls he gets from both small and large churches alike are all centered around active-shooter situations. He's also seeing more churches open to conceal carry which he believes is the best thing faith-based organizations can do for security.

"I think that pastors should really be willing to sit down and have a conversation about who do we let conceal carry? What kind of training should they have? Should they have identifiers? I think it should be really talked about within churches," Nelson said.

Jared Short is a ministry insurance specialist at Pierce-Carter Agencyin Mason. He sees more churches concerned about active-shooter damage liability and protection for their security teams.

But the challenge churches face, he said, is finding balance between faith and security.

"A lot of churches, out of just fear, don't want to react and don't want to put something together because it's just a scary topic. What our job is, is to say; Church, we need you to have a policy here. A plan because in some areas of life you get a second chance, but in churches, sometimes you don't get a second chance."

"The more they sit back and pretend it doesn't exist, the more it's just going to keep happening," Nelson said.

Nelson said that if churches allow their security team to get firearms training, they should be trained on a consistent basis so they're prepared.

Michigan law allows churches to decide for themselves if they want to allow people to carry guns inside.

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