Triangle churches reflect on armed security following Texas church massacre

DeJuan Hoggard Image
Tuesday, November 7, 2017
Triangle churches rethink security measures
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Churches reflect on security in wake of deadly attacks.

In the wake of the deadliest mass church shooting in modern U.S. history, several Triangle churches are taking a look at their security strategy.

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"I must admit to you that I don't think this is going to get any better," said Dr. Benji Kelly, pastor of Newhope Church. "Now we're just thinking how we can make sure (security) is more robust because this is getting to be quite chaotic and out of control."

Officers from the Durham Police Department direct traffic in front of the church's Durham campus each week. Once complete, those officers remain on site for an added security presence. Kelly said he will now have uniformed officers inside the worship center.

"Wisdom in this day and age, I believe, is to have security, care for the people of God, and trust God throughout that as well," Kelly told ABC11.

In fact, Kelly said in one instance there was a man in the congregation who got out of his seat and started walking toward the stage during the sermon. Kelly described the incident as "scary." Fortunately, the man was not armed.

One local church pastor told ABC11's Tim Pulliam his church is opposed to armed security and will rely on their faith in God to protect the congregation.

"I'm going to call a spade a spade. I think that's absolutely foolish," Kelly told ABC11.

Kelly said he respects that pastor's position, "but we must be smart and wise about the days we live in."

It's also not uncommon to see a law enforcement presence outside churches throughout the Triangle on Sunday, albeit limited to one to three police officers or sheriff's deputies.

Summit Church, which has several campuses across the Triangle, sent ABC11 the following statement:

"The Summit Church is, and always has been, committed to the safety of our congregation. For the last several years we have worked with law enforcement districts across the Triangle to provide off-duty officers at all of our campuses. We regularly review the unique needs of each location and coordinate specific plans with the on-site officers as well as our volunteer teams. In light of recent tragic events, we have been conducting another thorough and comprehensive review in an effort to continually improve our security measures.

In addition, all of our children's environments are monitored by a security team, and all volunteers who work with minors undergo a thorough background check before they can begin serving.

We remain committed and diligent in providing a safe and secure place to worship freely."