Security Alert: Churches Are Target for Attack

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Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, TN has over 30,000 members.
Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, has over 30,000 members. (Facebook)

The church I (Chuck Holton) went to as a kid only had about 200 people, and we knew everybody that came through those doors. But when you have a church the size of Bellvue, which is almost like a civic center, it's hard to imagine the challenges that would go with trying to keep this many people safe and keep an eye on everybody at the same time.

Willis told CBN News the church relies on state-of-the-art cameras.

"A camera system that constantly monitors and records activities on campus is extremely important," he explained. "They are not very expensive, and the thing that you get is the protection in a liability situation that you won't have if you don't have it."

Miller said that security is mostly what you don't see, and that's why it's important that places that have large gatherings have a professional security team in place.

Children's programs have to be especially vigilant. At Bellevue, a computerized system prints labels for each kid, and even keeps track of food allergies and medications.

Part of church security is responding to routine medical emergencies as well. Bellevue's security team includes nurse and paramedic Shelley Trigg.

"We work very closely with the security department," Trigg said. "We have plans in place should something tragic like a shooting occur. We work very closely with the security department; we are trained to take the trauma bag with us. We have everything here from aspirin to a gunshot wound kit."

If a tragedy were to happen at your church, one thing is certain: Very soon after something happens, there will be satellite trucks and media standing out on your front lawn.

The best advice is: Don't keep them in the dark. They've got to do their job.

Designate somebody to come out and give them the information you have. You don't have to give away names; you don't have to give away anything you don't want to. But it is important that you have a plan for how to deal with the news media.

Trust God, but Be Prepared

Willis said Christians need to trust God, but be prepared.

"The biggest thing that makes me cringe when I talk to other churches about security is they will say, 'We don't have security; we're just praying that nothing happens," Willis told CBN News.

"So when I hear that, I think, it's like my son saying to me, 'Hey I've got a big test tomorrow, but God already knows the grade I'm going to get, so I'm just going to leave it up to Him,'" he continued.

"It's important for us to understand that while we are to trust God, God has a big part for us to play in His plan," he said.

Miller agrees.

"At the end of the day they need to marry faith with wisdom and action," he said. "It's time for Christians to become educated about what's going on in the world, to be prayerful and then to be prepared. And those things will make a difference."

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