Shooting at Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church ignites conversation around safety at Triangle churches

Akilah Davis Image
Monday, February 12, 2024
NC faith leader on safety protocols following TX megachurch shooting
From concealed carry to hired security, North Carolina church leaders inspect security in light of shooting at Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- It's Bishop Ronald Godbee's mission to protect and serve his congregation.

The former Detroit police officer has safeguards in place to ensure that his church is safe in the worst-case scenario. He allows certain members of the congregation to carry firearms in the sanctuary, but last month he added an extra layer of protection by hiring an off-duty Durham police officer for every worship service.

"I'd rather be overly prepared than not prepared at all," said Godbee. "Our faith automatically makes us the enemy to some people and unfortunately, we have to guard against that. I teach leaders across the globe, if you haven't thought about your possibilities, you aren't properly prepared."

This conversation comes as all eyes are on Houston, Texas, following a shooting inside Joel Osteen's megachurch. The shooter opened fire while standing next to her 7-year-old son. She was eventually killed by two off-duty cops.

"Lakewood proves to us that if they had not been prepared, this could have reached a level of atrocity that we couldn't even imagine," he said.

SEE ALSO | What to know about the shooting at Joel Osteen's megachurch in Texas during Sunday services

A child was among two people injured in a Lakewood Church shooting in Houston, Texas, officials said. An armed females suspect is dead.

More churches are seeking extra protection by calling on area law enforcement for backup. According to the Durham County Sheriff's Office, off-duty deputies provide protection services to 25 churches at a rate of $35 an hour. According to Wake County, deputies there serve about 35 places of worship at a rate of $45 an hour.

If officers aren't an option, one Durham self-defense expert said you can always find ways to protect yourself.

"We show jiu jitsu methods of cuffing and weapons retention," said Sunny Yu, with Gracie Jiu Jitsu.

The hope is for that training to kick it when you need it most.

"If I'm standing right here and you pull it, I have a chance if my training is enough," he said.