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Recent shootings reignites conversations about church security

St. John's Church
Posted at 10:01 PM, May 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-17 22:56:55-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Following shootings at churches in recent years, including one in California over the weekend, many are concerned about safety while being in a church. According to the Lifeway Research, there have been 21 fatal shootings in places of worship since 1999. Many churches are now adding security to keep people safe.

“It’s a terrible tragedy,” said Bishop David Walkowiak about the California shooting. “And what we’re doing is we’re coming right up against the mystery of evil that is present in the world today.” Bishop Walkowiak is part of Diocese of Grand Rapids.

After the multiple shootings in the United States in recent years, many of the parishes that he works with have added a security committee. One that decided to add security was the Cathedral of St. Andrew. Security can be seen surveying the outside of the cathedral and inside before the start of mass. “We do have security guards there for the safety of the people and for the reassurance,” said Bishop Walkowiak, “and they come in very handy on the rare occasions when they’ve been needed.” Bishop Walkowiak also says that the recent violence shouldn’t stop people from coming to church. He also believes that the best thing churches can do is talk with their congregation about what makes them comfortable.

2 the Rescue is also helping churches by preparing them on what to do if there is a shooting. The organization runs a scenario, which includes a loud bang, to see how people will react. Once the simulation is complete, they have a conversation about what could have been done differently.

“As a human being our human reaction is to freeze, you hear the noise, you kind of slow down, and you might be looking in the direction of what it is, but you’re not reacting immediately,” said 2 the Rescue co-founder Mike Wierenga. “And there’s not doubt that movement or that reaction of what is happening would save lives, there’s no doubt in my mind.”

To prepare for what could happen, Wierenga suggests developing policies and procedures, putting together a security team, and identifying high risk areas.

More information on 2 the Rescue can be found on their website.

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