Places of worship are taking security precautions after several prominent cases of shootings inside churches throughout the country. The latest shooting involved a man who killed 26 people with an assault rifle inside a southern Texas church.
Pastor John Jenkins said he was been preparing his congregation for potential problems since a church shooting in South Carolina in 2015 killed nine worshipers. He said he wants his 11,000 parishioners at the First Baptist Church of Glenarden to be and feel as safe as they can be.
“This is the new normal,” Jenkins said. “It’s unbelievable. It’s unfathomable to think that someone would come into a church and do something like that. It’s beyond comprehension.”
“Over time in our church after other shootings like Charleston, we have tried to take precautionary steps.”
Jenkins said an armed security detail, including off duty police officers, are in place at his church. However, many congregants admitted what happened in Texas was on their minds.
“Pray for those who would have the mindset to do something as evil,” said church elder Wilber Barham.
But while hearts are heavy, most people said they won't let these evil acts impact their way of life.
“My faith is strong,” said church member Roseanne Moore. “I don’t feel fearful about coming to church, because I trust in the Lord."
Places like Prince William County, Virginia, offer what they call worship watch training. Officers are working with faith-based organizations to help them prevent and prepare for violent and dangerous crimes.