Rev. Steven Marsh, the senior pastor of the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods California, said armed security officers now guard the church during weekday and Sunday services following the shooting incident in May that killed one and injured five.
“We’re not trying to militarize the church. We prayed about it and made a decision to have armed security as an act of faith,” Marsh said.
Marsh added that the church would add more security cameras, develop an active shooter plan and apply for funding from the Department of Homeland Security.
In mid-May, a gunman who allegedly hated Taiwan chained the church’s doors shut and hid firebombs inside before shooting at the gathering of elderly Taiwanese church members, killing one member and injuring five others.
Former spiritual leader Rabbi Charlie in Colleyville Texas said that it is possible to create a safe and welcoming space.
In January, a gunman took hostage Rabbi Cytron-Walker and three others during a Shabbat service.
Past attacks on churches and other public spaces forced faith leaders to evaluate if there is more than can be done to keep their flocks safe.
Rev. Kylon Middleton at Mt. Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, said that an armed police officer watches over Sunday services and members carrying concealed weapons keep watching when an officer is absent.
“It is sad, but we are in such times where we must have armed security to protect our people,” Middleton said.
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