The tragic shooting last month at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, further shattered the notion that houses of worship are peaceful sanctuaries that are protected from the strife and violence that sometimes erupts in the outside world.
In the wake of the horrific rampage that left nine people dead, the Rev. E. Christopher Hill, pastor of The Potter's House in Denver, Colorado, is speaking out about why his church has a massive security system, including surveillance cameras, patrols and armed guards.
Hill recently told the New York Times that not everyone was on board with taking such comprehensive measures, but that some in his congregation reached out after the Charleston shooting to say that they now understand why these safety precautions are in place.
The lead pastor of The Potter's House — a multicultural, multiethnic church with 7,000 members — said that he and other leaders work to ensure that the multifaceted security plan doesn't impact worship.
"We don't want it to interfere with worship, but there are people who feel called to be... what we would call the safety net," Hill told the Times.
Watch Hill explain church security below:
The volunteer security team at the church consists of 25 individuals who are a mix of active or past military and law enforcement personnel, as well as civilians; about 15 percent of the team — which provides crowd control, facility control and executive protection — is armed.
Every week before services, the volunteers come together to pray before heading out with the sole goal of protecting congregants.
"There's no way to look beyond the fact that Colorado has been specifically visited with great tragedy," referencing the Columbine High School shooting on 1999, the Youth With A Mission and New Life Church shootings in 2007 and the Aurora theater shooting in 2012. "We now live in an America where you must be vigilant."
Hill said that the latest shooting offers a wake-up call to alert people that they're truly not safe in a variety of public venues.
"You are not safe on a plane. You are not safe in an elementary school. You are not safe in a high school. You are not safe in a movie theater," he said. "Guess what? You are not safe in a church."
(H/T: Christian Post)
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