With church security threats moving beyond theft, embezzlement and sexual harassment to violence and shootings, churches are being urged to receive proper training to help protect their flocks.
"Churches are open and accessible for their fellowship, yet those who have a sole intention of doing harm have an easy access into the church. How do Churches prepare and plan for this violent phenomena?" posed Church Security Solutions, LLC.
The latest violence to hit a religious facility took place on Sunday in Knoxville, Tenn., where a gunman opened fire during a children's play, killing two people and wounding seven.
"Criminals know there will be very little resistance, very little preparation, very little security," said Jeff Hawkins, author of An Introduction to Security & Emergency Planning for Faith-Based Organizations, according to The Free Lance-Star, which noted this was the 17th major shooting in the United States at a house of worship since 1998.
The Knoxville shooting follows last winter's tragedy at a Colorado Springs megachurch and a missionary training center in Arvada, Colo. The December shootings left four people dead.
Church Security Solutions and its team of professional leaders have announced they will be touring the country over the next year to provide churches, big and small, training in security. CSS will visit major metropolitan areas with one-day conferences covering cameras and surveillance, threat assessment, legal and liability issues, data security and security team development. The regional conferences will also teach attendees how to control and manage a critical incident should one occur at their church or organization.
"Church leaders today face the unique challenge of providing an open and loving environment in the church without being mistaken for an easy target," says a statement on the CSS Web site.
The 2008-2009 Security Conference Tour launches in Aug. 14 in Portland, Ore., where Pastor Doug Newcomb of Faith Bible Church in Denver, Colo., will share "Lessons Learned" from the day he received the call about the tragic shootings that broke out just miles from his church.