By David Dykes, Greenville Online.
But in the wake of the church shootings Wednesday night in Charleston, local pastors reiterated their concerns about having safe ministries and said they hope existing security measures are adequate.
At First Presbyterian Church in Greenville, for example, officials have been intentional about congregational safety after shooting incidents in churches in other states several years ago, according to Senior Pastor Richard Gibbons.
“We have several layers of security in place throughout the week including an undercover police presence and armed security officers,” he said. “The safety of our worshipers especially our youth and children is paramount at First Pres and we take it very seriously.”
Safety experts say few churches have a ministry dedicated to security and emergency planning, and they urge church leaders to address key risks they face.
“Houses of worship, especially Christian churches, are the victims of crimes and tragic situations each year, and most people, even in our (security) industry, are not aware of the extent,” Jeffrey A. Hawkins, a public safety and security professional, wrote on a blog sponsored by American Military University.
An average of 100 Christian churches are victims of arson every year, with some burned to the ground, Hawkins said.
A poll once showed more than 75 percent of all churches in the U.S. had no security measures in place, he said.
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