Trinity Fellowship (Amarillo, TX)
Trinity Fellowship in Amarillo, TX, has 125 volunteers in its usher/sentinel ministry that assist in services and events. It also has 12 armed Special Response Team members, four Emergency Response Team members, and two medics.
To find out how such a robust security presence was established — and maintained — Church Executive reached out to Larry Miles, pastor of ministry administration, who oversees this area of operations.
To have 125 volunteers in your usher/sentinel ministry sounds like an exceptionally large amount — is it?
Larry Miles: No, because the men are “on duty” for a month, and then off for a month to sit with their families. This helps to prevent burnout. Half work the even months, and the other half work the
- 10th Annual Church Security Conference
- High-tech security at budget price
- Too few churches have security and emergency plans
We’re told these usher/sentinel ministry volunteers “assist in services and events.” What does that look like, in practice?
Miles: We cover one service on Saturday evening and two on Sunday morning, as well as many outreach events throughout the year. With about 12,000 members, all of these are large events.
How do you identify, recruit and screen volunteers?
Miles: All usher/sentinel volunteers come through our church’s “growth track,” which consists of four one-hour classes held on four Sundays every month. From there, the volunteer undergoes a background check and a sit-down interview with me.
All SRT-ERT and medics are veteran ushers/sentinels that have proven their commitment and faithfulness to Trinity Fellowship Church. They then go through a one-year probation period, during which time they receive extensive training with weapons. At the end of this probation period, they must complete a weapons qualification course. They then qualify with their weapons twice a year, and train with them on a monthly basis.
How do the Special Response Team’s (SRT) and Emergency Response Team’s (ERT) responsibilities differ?
Miles: The SRT cover all church functions on the weekend. The ERT cover all church functions Monday through Friday. Both SRT and ERT train and qualify together.
How often are medics onsite?
Miles: Our medics are onsite at every weekend church function and at every special event during the week.
What benefits has the church enjoyed for its above-and-beyond safety & security efforts?
Miles: Our church hasn’t suffered any gun-related violence since our usher/sentinel ministry began in 1996. Many medically related issues have been successfully handled by our medics through the years — heart attacks, strokes, slip-and-falls, children’s broken bones, etc.
— Reporting by RaeAnn Slaybaugh