Pastors voice concerns over growing violence in church - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Pastors voice concerns over growing violence in church

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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- It is the one place you'd think your family is the safest -- but Louisville has recently been thrust into a growing class of cities seeing deadly violence in church.  That has local pastors adjusting to troubling new times to keep their congregations safe. 

At Southeast Christian Church, they host classes for many things, from couples and Christian ministry to career and family counseling, but this is something new.

Jerry McConnell of the Center for Personal Protection & Safety says, "How do you survive worst case scenario, whether it be an active shooter event or a child abduction -- everything from how to handle a disruptive person to the worst."

That worst-case scenario happened in Louisville just a month ago, when police say Mahmoud Hindi walked into Springdale Community Church and killed two people at a homeowners association meeting.

It has many in the worship community talking about safety in a way they never had before, as they deal with DUIs and threats from other members of a congregation.

McConnell explains, "They are still operating under the assumption that this is God's house, we are God's people, we don't have to worry about this, but the reality is sanctuaries are not particularly safe places because bad guys recognize they are soft targets."

That's eye-opening for people like Paul Parish, the Administrative Pastor of New Life Church:  "Not just Sunday morning but Wednesday night, weekend activities, choir rehearsal, really anytime there's a function on the ground."

When it comes to security at church, experts say awareness is key for everyone from the pastor in the pulpit to the people in the pews.  According to McConnell, "If your people are aware and if they're paying attention, situational awareness, and they've been trained, then that's the prevention piece right there."

The group is made up of about 70 pastors and leaders representing dozens of different churches throughout Kentuckiana.  The training consisted of Power Points, videos, and role playing.

It's not saying church is not safe, but that in a world of evangelism and outreach some are vulnerable.

Tuesday's training was hosted by the Center for Personal Protection and Safety. a national organization out of Washington state.

It says 75 percent of churches in North America have no significant security plan in place.

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