Could it happen here? How one church is preparing for a mass shooting

SCOTTS, Mich. — Did they know how many rounds a gunman fired into First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas?

Did they know how many little boys and girls he killed?

Did they know there was a second violent church attack that same day in Fresno, Calif.?

Barry Young’s voice rose as he led an “intruder awareness and response training” for church personnel Saturday (Nov. 11) at Prairie Baptist Church in Scotts, Mich.

“What happened in Texas isn’t new. It’s just larger than normal,” said Young, the vice president of church security ministries at Grandview, Mo.-based Strategos International, a Christian company that teaches people at schools, churches and other institutions how to deal with a violent, armed intruder.

“We’ve got to get church leaders’ heads out of the sand.”

It was the weekend after the deadliest church shooting in American history, after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton urged viewers on Fox News, “We need people in church — professional security or at least arming some of the parishioners or congregation — so they can respond when something like this happens again.”

As church leaders across the country considered how to respond — to comfort their congregations but also to make them feel safe — nearly 80 people from churches across Michigan, Indiana and Illinois gathered at Prairie Baptist for the training presented by Strategos, the largest church security training ministry in the world, according to Young.

Strategos, which is affiliated with Abundant Life Church in Lee’s Summit, Mo., southeast of Kansas City, has trained more than 20,000 church leaders since 2007. But since the most recent Texas church shooting, Young said he’s been overwhelmed with requests and is filling up his schedule so quickly that one Boston church will have to wait a year for its training.

Saturday’s training was peppered with horrific details from the Texas church shooting, alarming statistics and Bible verses delivered in a call-and-response cadence familiar to many churchgoers.

“I wish it was 1950 … but it’s 2017, and the American church has to change,” Young said.

His voice jumped another decibel: “I said the American church has to change. How many people have to die before the American church changes?”

Prairie Baptist Church

Prairie Baptist Church planned the event at least six months ago to boost the skills of its security team and to help other churches in the area do the same, Associate Pastor John Woullard said. When it came to the timing — a week after the Texas church shooting — Woullard said, “God just had that all worked out.”

Prairie Baptist, housed in a long, low building covered in tan siding, sees about 200 people on a Sunday morning, the associate pastor said. That’s about the average size for a church in the United States, according to the Hartford Institute for Religion Research.

The church has had a security team for about three years, after Woullard went to a similar training and, he said, “my eyes were opened to how much is going on in the world and how little we know what’s going …read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News


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