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Texas Church Shooting Prompts Local Church Security Questions - KOAM TV 7

Texas Church Shooting Prompts Local Church Security Questions

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Joplin, MO -

Local church members revisit security concerns at their places of worship after a deadly weekend in Texas.  Authorities say the shooting at a small Texas church yesterday stemmed from a domestic incident.  The gunman killed 26 people and wounded 20 others.  

Members of a local church say parishioners elsewhere have contacted them about security issues.  Members of the Villa Heights Christian Church say these safety concerns range from how to help prevent a church shooting, to what to do during and after such a tragedy.

There was a time when more church doors meant more convenience and opportunity to come and worship.

"The church has more doors because we should be open armed, just like Christ," says Truman Brady, minister of Villa Heights.

Times have changed.

"Look what happens," says Brady.

Two-hundred twenty-five people worship during a service at Villa Heights.  If you're a visitor, plan on getting only a bit of leeway with the church's nine entrances.

"Church starts at 10:30," says Brady.  "They're all locked at 10:45."

After that time, someone at the church's main entrance serves as a gate keeper.

"When they're a stranger and you don't know them and they look a little disturbed, that can kind of make you keep an eye on them," says Rob Petersen with Villa Heights.

Villa Heights, and other places of worship, are in a peculiar situation.

"Every time we turn around, it seems like there's another tragedy that takes place.  Then you think, I've got to do something.  We've got to make sure we're doing something," says Brady.

A couple of Villa Heights parishioners conceal carry during worship service, just in case they need to help save other church members during a violent attack.

"The idea of being safe here in America...", says Peterson.

...Safe in America's places of worship...

"...Is becoming more and more illusory."

Staff at Villa Heights say several nearby churches have asked about establishing new security measures of their own.  There's a balance between that, and church members not wanting to turn their backs to criminals; even the most recent church shooting suspect.

"I just wish someone who is a follower of Jesus had gotten into their life and intervened well before this ever happened," says Petersen.

Villa Heights has also installed a new Sunday school identification system that prints out a number for each child.  That number is matched to each parent.

Church members say this is one more example of how the modern day church not only has to think about ministry, but safety.

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