FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Church shootings are becoming more common in the U.S. and churches across the country are taking steps to prepare themselves, either through hired security or active shooting training. That added security is no exception for a Fort Wayne church.
Members of Abundant Life Church on Coliseum Boulevard have been mapping out security plans and taking shooting classes. Five or 10 years ago they wouldn’t have thought it was necessary, but now they believe this type of security is a must.
“I think after the Texas shooting it became very real to all of us that unfortunately this is starting to become more and more prevalent,” said head of security Chris Williams.
Twenty-five people were shot to death by an active shooter in Sutherland, Texas, last month. That came two years after nine people were killed in a mass shooting at a Charleston, South Carolina, church.
“It’s really sad that places that were once viewed as maybe off limits or sacred are now kind of specifically targeted,” Williams said. “It kind of scared us all a little bit to what if this were Abundant Life Church, would we have an adequate response?”
The answer to that is now a yes. They’re amping up security by arming 15 to 20 members with guns. They’ve been receiving formal training on proper communications and responses in active shooter situations. The ushers, greeters, nurses and newly formed security team are all briefed on how to protect Abundant Life’s members if danger ever arises.
Williams knows many churches won’t agree with the new security measures but says in a 20,000 square foot church with 12 doors and 450 members, they have no choice in light of recent events.
“I can understand the hesitation because it really is walking a tight rope between security and hospitality,” he said. “You want to make sure that your members and visitors are safe and anyone that comes into this church, we want it to be a safe place, but at the same time there’s also a certain level of security practices that should be implemented to make sure that we’re doing everything we possibly can to keep it a safe place on services.”
Williams says their new armed security plan will be launched this month. For security purposes, they aren’t revealing who in the congregation will be armed.