JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A lot of churches in Region 8 have never really considered church security. But it's not only a good idea, it's vital for safety.
A meeting held on Thursday night focused on what churches can do to be safer. About 200 were at the Huntington Building to hear what Jonesboro Police Chief Mike Yates had to say.
"I never dreamed it would come to this," said Pastor Ray Broadway.
Pastor Broadway is not alone. In the 42 years that he's been preaching, security wasn't high on the list.
"This is something that all the churches are going to be facing. We will face the safety of the parishioners that come to church," said Broadway.
"Churches today are not what they used to be in the past. We're going to have to be more diligent. We're going to have to be more conscious of who is around us and who we let in our doors," said Chuck Tice.
One room inside a church is commonly known as a sanctuary. Many of us see it as a place of refuge but we know that's not always true.
"I think the things that have transpired on the national scene and some of the profound changes in society have raised awareness some," said Jonesboro Police Chief Mike Yates.
"The way that the economy and everything else is today it's getting worse all the time," said Broadway.
"Desperate people do desperate things in desperate times sometimes unfortunate things happen," said church elder Wesley Rothe.
Chief Mike Yates said there are a lot of things that can make you a target. Everything from where your church is located and the services provided to the amount of money in the offering can make you vulnerable.
"The churches themselves need to have a plan. Know what that plan is will change from place to place," said Yates.
Many churches have an "open door policy" welcoming new faces with open arms. The crowd who listened to the seminar want to know how to do it safely.
"The basics of the security and still being friendly to the people of the community," said Broadway.
Yates said first a safety team needs to be formed. Team members need to be selected, trained and put into action.
For a church there are a lot of things that could potentially be a threat. While not all of the things on the list will ever happen it doesn't hurt to be prepared.
Here are some of the things that Yates said churches need to do:
Evaluate your current situation
Propose a safety and security team to the church board
Select team members
Train and implement the team.
Questions to ask:
Does your church take a high profile view on controversial issues like abortion?
Are you located in a area with religious issues?
Does the pastoral staff console hurting marriages and families?
Are you in a higher crime area?
Many functions end after dark?
Do you have large cash offerings?
Do you have families with child custody cases?
Unruly or unstable people
Lost missing children