Church Security Experts Advise Churches to Reassess and Be Vigilant Following Latest Shooting

Ben O'Neal, church security and safety specialist with the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, talks to a group on the issue. Photo provided by Ben O'Neal
Ben O’Neal, church security and safety specialist with the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, talks to a group on the issue. Photo provided by Ben O’Neal

NASHVILLE (BP) – Churches are taking another look at their security plans after a weekend when 10 died in a shooting at a Buffalo, N.Y., grocery store and another the next day at a California church.

While variables can exist from church to church in establishing or modifying those plans, the concerns and preparation are largely consistent, one expert said.

“It’s a matter of scope, of scale,” said Mike Everett, director of security services for Bellevue Baptist Church near Memphis. “With churches it’s the same way. We all face the same issues, whether it’s budgetary or congregation size or the number of people you have to serve on your security ministry.”

Everett was working with a company that had given a security assessment at Bellevue before the church approached him with a job offer that he accepted in September 2021. Prior to that, he had served 23 years in law enforcement in southern Illinois as a patrolman and three-term sheriff.

Bellevue already had an established security team before Everett’s arrival. In 2016 that team took action in subduing a heavily armed man who entered the sanctuary during the church’s 11 a.m. Easter service. An alert greeter had noticed a pistol sticking out of the man’s jacket. Upon being interrogated by Bellevue’s then-director of security Andy Willis, a reserve officer with the Memphis Police Department, an automatic rifle and “lots of ammo” were found in the man’s backpack.

Click here to read more.
Source: Baptist Press