Think it can’t happen at church?

Think it can’t happen at church?

by Thunder Bearer


The “Dark Night Massacre” or whatever you wish to call it, was a horrible thing for a number of people, and may yet impact how our society progresses in America.  We need to remember, however, that these incidents are not isolated, but occur frequently at other places all around the country.  One of the most notorious “gun free zones” that you might think about is none other than our churches.


My family attends a small church (less than 100 adults in service).  The church has a security team.  I’m the leader of the team.


Wait a second?  Did Thunder Bearer really say that?  100 people, and they have a TEAM of security people?  Yes.  Each with their own role, duties, and more.  Some of them are merely greeters and ushers that understand that the team exists, and how each person interacts with the other portions of the team for effective coverage.  We hold semi-regular meetings and discussions, and we plan how we can make our church a safe sanctuary.


Why?  We have distinctly encountered a number of lower level threats, and have taken them seriously.  The largest threat thus far was a mere disruption that escalated into a little shoving and pushing, and a lot of profanity, but we recognized it as something that could have become much worse.  Each church across our country is a potential target for the next active shooter, and that includes yours.  April 23rd, 2012, there was a church shooting in Aurora, Colorado, unrelated to the James Holmes event.  It was stopped by an off-duty cop who was carrying a gun.  In 2007, New Life Community Church security team members held their ground against another shooter that could have done serious damage as well.  These are just two that existed within Colorado, that came to mind immediately.  This is a story that rings out in every state. 


Our team prepares for the worst case scenario…  another James Holmes, or Kip Kinkel, or whatever else.  Every year, a number of churches experience “active shooters”, and the statistics that I have been given say that shooters don’t discriminate or favor one church over another.  Not size, not statement, not racial makeup, not location, none of that.  Oddly enough, if we prepare for the worst, then we’re prepared for anything short of that.


Medical problems?  Yep, got those under control, as that portion of the team is prepared for far worse.

Fire problems?  Trained people on fire extinguishers, and expanded our scope to include potential for active arson.

Child issues?  We’ve got the mechanisms in place to respond, and we will respond quickly and efficiently, rather than panic. 


Do you have something like this in your church?  If so, great!  Please keep up the good work.  If not… WHY NOT?  There are countless reasons, even for the pacifists, to be prepared for an attack on their own.  Even if you take no violent action, you can at least be prepared to evacuate, move people out, coordinate the emergency responders as well as the response from your team.  If you are a prepper, then you are already in the category that is prepared for a variety of issues. 


Given our preparation, we need to pursue the concept of how we can serve others better.  Perhaps you have a CCW, or another talent that is useful for the Church Emergency Response Team (based on the concept of a Community Emergency Response Team).  If so, and you are appropriately and spiritually mature, you should approach your pastor, priest, rabbi, or other clergyman title that I have missed, and seek guidance and responsibility. 


Besides…  guess where I met some other preppers?  Yep!


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  1. My church does not have an organized, counter-disaster or crisis reaction team that I know of. But, we have some individual members that go to the same service each week that are prepared to meet certain contingencies. I am the head usher at my mass. After the service begins, I walk through the entire church. I check every pew for unattended baggage. Using a small flashlight (Nebo Red Line), I look in each confessional in the rear of the church and scan each closet. I look behind counters, podiums and statues. I am a concealed weapons permit holder, so I am armed every time I enter the building. I have been performing these routine security checks since 9/11. In almost 11 years, I only ever had a few people ask what I was looking for. On one occasion, a doctor friend of mine called me to the rear of the church and asked me if I was carrying a gun. He actually saw my Scrade Tough Tool leather pouch on my belt, under my sport coat. I usually just slip my Walther PPK/S into a front pants pocket and a few extra mags in a back pocket. A few years ago, a guy approached me at the end of the mass and thanked me. It turns out he is a retired policeman from New York City.

  2. Thanks for your “heads up” regarding a possible incident at a church. I work at a church and have a carry permit. However, I am prohibited by law and by church policy to carry on the property to include leaving it in my vehicle. They are not open to a security team beyond a guard in a golf cart.

    It would be futile and possibly detrimental to my employment to broach the subject because of the liberal church environment here…

  3. While our Church has a security team we also have about 25 other armed members at any given service. The crooks know there is a lot of cash at a service of a mid size church. The active shooter however may think Churches are a gun free zone but there not. In fact I can’t think of a single place I go that has more legally armed citizens then the Church except the range.

    Its not something anyone talks about. A gun will never be accidentally expose and the most unlikely members are packing. I’m not sure but I think pastor is a permit holder. It only makes sense, I mean after all they are the Shepherds of the flock and doesn’t the shepherd protect the flock??

  4. Outstanding article.

    This article should be sent out to all churches across the country.
    Unfortunately, there will be many that feel that church is no place for a handgun.

    Pacifism will only get you dead when dealing with someone who has lethal intent.

  5. Irish-7, this past Sunday was the first time I was “found out” by one of the un-informed. Fortunately, he’s on the security team and he was talking about a drill we did about frisking someone, and being surprised about the pistol in the small of the back, then he tapped me right there. His eyes went wide and then he sheepishly grinned. Again, better to be safe than sorry.

    Wow, Can’t Carry… I’m in California, and we can’t get much more liberal than that. Good luck, and my prayers go out to you!

    Patriot One, makes perfect sense to me. Of course, you’re probably in a more “free” state than I am.

    Jarhead1987, having spent my time in a Pacifistic church, I have seen it first hand. So many people overlook what happens to people who fail to protect the little ones!

  6. Anytime a group of people gather, there is potential for a terroristic act. Toss in the potential for religious animosity or racial hatred and the list of potential threats escalates dramatically. Hence, anytime a group of like minded people are together there should be some consideration given to security. Maybe the old adage “Peace Through Superior Firepower” should join “Do Unto Others as You Would Have Others Do Unto You” as a basic teaching for our kids. Growing up, I never thought picking which pew to sit in was a tactical consideration. Or better yet, which Kimber and Benchmade was the best match for today’s suit and tie – if there is going to be a confrontation at least one can choose to be well coordinated.

  7. Our church is on Main Street, so we get lots of homeless folks in the winter that just want to get out of the cold. I am alright with that. It would be hypocritical to deny them access, even if it is obvious that they are not there to pray. One guy used to bother people. He stunk so bad that it was difficult to be within a ten foot radius. He also made a scene by walking up to the front of the church and standing in by the alter with his arms lifted up, like he was some sort of prophet. I did have a problem with that. While most folks steered clear of this guy (he was mentally deranged), I did confront him and say “Look, you can’t be standing up in front of the alter. You are in the way and distracting the service. You are going to have to sit down, or stand in the back”. He kind of grunted and mumbled a bit. But, he did what I told him. The priest wanted everyone to just ignore him. The guys on my usher crew warned me to stay away from him. But, I could not do that for too long. He was a security threat. In the long run, God ended up taking the guy. I will assume that he was cleansed with “Perpetual Light”. I admit, this guy was scary: 6’3″ to 6’4″, about 250 lbs, long scraggly, oily gray hair and beard, Wild-Man-Of-Borneo look. Rumor had it that he killed someone when he was young and was institutionalized most of his life. He lived under the Inter-boro Bridge. This was years ago, before I owned a Walther PPK/S. Back then, I carried a Colt Gold Cup M1911A1 on a shoulder holster. Consider this a confession, but I gave Main Street Mike a peek of my .45 caliber courage. Lord, forgive me. Moral of the story: Danger lurks in unexpected locations. People should feel safe in their house of worship.

  8. Thanks for the exc. ideas. As a hospital Chaplain I had to deal with some very dangerous people.
    If you arent allowed guns maybe pepper spray or a stun gun might do. Arlene

  9. I had a security team meeting tonight. We don’t allow ccw except for police who we couldn’t stop anyway. The Pastor may be The shepherd , but he needs his sheepdogs. I am still trying to explain prepping to our leaders, as things get worse in The economy, the problems will increase with theft and panhandlers.
    Stay safe, be alert.

  10. Harry – I must say, where I’m at, Hawaiian or camp shirts are comfy and common, so fashion is less of a concern. Still, I just go with the basic black tupperware, which matches everything. (grin!)

    Irish-7 – Your secret is safe with us. I hope that I never have to even think about doing that. In the past two years, our small little church has had one drunk wake up in service, and a few caused some scenes and presented non-violent threats. Still, I’m prepared for the worst. (Note, I submitted the article to Rourke before the incident in Minnesota, but I guess I also noted a couple of other notable incidents.)

    Howard – We’ve chosen carefully with our team. Other than less-than-lethal options, nobody on ours is carrying except for myself. While that places a distinct burden on me, I’d rather not deal with evaluating which yell of “gun” that I need to respond to.

    arlene – We did choose pepper spray and while we considered a stun gun for one of our people on the team, the pepper spray, kubatons, and our two Taekwondo Black Belt’s should handle the rough and tough stuff that doesn’t warrant final solutions. Many great options out there for teams that work for the more liberal crowd. Expandable baton’s, knives, and common sense.

  11. I am on the committee to organize our whole town for any emergency. We have broken it down into 25 areas with block captains over every 10-12 families. We practice and hope we will be ready when something happens.

  12. Ego te absolvo Irish, you are welcome at my parish any day even if we have to work on your love of the poor. 😉

    I have thought about this a bit, but never directly related to prepping. My Church has a long tradition of Saints dying at the Altar rather than barring the door to danger. After all God’s house is open to everyone, even those with evil intent, and if Christ died for us who am I to refuse to die for Him while offering the Sacred Mysteries? That being said we have a firm grasp of just war and self defense, and so as a shepherd I suppose it is something to consider. I have plenty of CCW holders and police in the pews as well as fire and EMS. I have been thinking about organizing our social services people, who run our food pantry and soup kitchen, to consider some disaster planning similar to the red cross, perhaps church security and disaster response could go hand in hand for a new group.

  13. I always wondered what a law banning guns in Church, like VAs, would mean for the Pastor if the parsonage was on church grounds?

    Do we need to choose between the first and second ammendments?

  14. Peggy – Great job!

    Padre – Many have indeed died, and I look at John 15:13, and know that I should protect the flock at whatever price that I might have to pay. Indeed, Padre, if you can strengthen the convictions of just one, while losing no more, the price may be worth it. I know it is for me, but I serve my Pastor, and the Lord. I also know that They will have to pick up the pieces afterwards. I view that in today’s society, we can see that thoughts are changing. After the Dark Knight Massacre, people have stopped going to movies as much, and in that, we can see that people may stop going to churches, especially if they lose their clergyman. Satan’s primary target is to tear down the walls of the church, so I have requested my Pastor to evacuate, and seek shelter while our team resolves the situation. After that, he will be able to rebuild the walls and minister to those that hold fast. Definitely required prayer…

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