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Prepare for the worst, pray for the best

By Deb Kluttz

Kansas church relies on concealed carry rather than a professional security team.

The headline of this article was spoken at the Ministry Security Regional Training Conference that I attended in Kansas City, KS, presented the other month by the Center for Personal Protection and Safety.  “Prepare for the worst, pray for the best” makes sense to me as the executive pastor of Westview Community Church in Manhattan, KS.

We are a Wesleyan church in the middle of the Flint Hills, with both a military base and a university within a few short miles of our building. The workshop alerted me to our need as a church for a security plan. When you begin discussing security, gun control becomes a major topic.

Westview does not have any of the stickers on our doors that say “NO GUNS.” For us and other churches that do not employ a professional security team, it is a blessing to have cool-headed and responsible people in our congregation who are licensed to carry concealed firearms in public. They form an informal security team in our church. They have agreed to be alert, attentive and active if necessary. We also have medical personnel in our church that can be counted on in case of a medical emergency on-site.

Our thoughts concerning the NO GUNS stickers being placed on our doors is that it would be the responsible, conceal and carry “packers” who would obey the stickers and leave their guns at home or in their vehicles. For those who were irresponsible with guns and weapons, the stickers would mean absolutely nothing. So of what safety benefit do the stickers really serve?

I and several church staff have taken the concealed carry (CCW) class and obtained our licenses. We serve as the point people in any type of emergency in our premises, and each of us has brought our handgun to church. The 10th anniversary of 9/11 was one Sunday that we contacted several people on our security team to be on high alert for all church services. When I say that we pack our weapons, this does not mean that our guns are showing outside of our clothing.

In January 2011, a new gun law took effect in Iowa, allowing permit holders to openly carry their firearms in public. I don’t know what Westview leadership would do about that obvious indiscretion.

Bob Brueggen from Harvest Bible Chapel in Davenport, IA, says his church has a professional security team of uniformed and plainclothes officers, and will simply ask people who display their weapons to leave them in their cars. If the person refuses, the church asks them to leave.  If the person resists, a uniformed officer will escort them out of the property.

Thomas Doidge at Woodridge Community Church, New Berlin, WI, says his church is figuring out whether those who are not part of the church’s security team should be allowed to carry firearms on-site.  He says the leadership is leaning toward allowing weapons on the property but not in the buildings. Doidge says, “You could have a weapon in your trunk but not in your pocket.”

Steve Paxton, executive pastor at LifePointe Church in Fort Collins, CO, says, “It is good to have people you know carrying handguns for safety sake. Due to past church violence, I would say if you know who is carrying and you have a security training meeting, this is the way you have a sense of safety as a congregation.”

Westview would agree with Paxton as our staff has had training on church safety and security, and has passed the safety and security training highlights on to our congregants. We have formed a nonprofessional security team with the standard of procedures for the various possible scenarios, and we feel somewhat prepared for the worst.

But always, we pray for the best. We pray we will never have to implement any of this training or face any occasion where we would feel the need to discharge our firearms.

Deb Kluttz is executive pastor at Westview Community Church in Manhattan, KS. www.westviewcommunity.com

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Key controls lower insurance costs

With open access to worship facility equipment such as computers, copiers and expensive media tools, access and key control is a challenge for congregations. One misplaced key represents a crack in the armor protecting a church against intruders.

Grace Christian Center in Killeen, TX, acknowledged that it can no longer afford to continue using a mechanical key system. The church is turning to smart-key solutions not only to improve security but to reduce vandalism and theft.

With more than 2,000 members, three buildings and about 170 doorways to secure, Grace Christian faced a significant key control issue. The church had to hire outside contractors to re-key the buildings three times in a span of six years due to lost master keys. The church decided to use CyberLock, an electronic lock system.

Pastor Steven Timmerman says, “We saved a great deal on installation costs because no wiring was required for the installation. The audit trail from the locks and keys is very important to us and has increased accountability throughout our facilities. We especially like being able to program each person’s key to allow or restrict their access to specific areas during set times of the day and week. Most importantly, we’ll never have to re-key again.”

Grace Christian has also found additional cost savings. Facility manager Jim Reed observes, “Incorporating security has had a positive effect on our insurance costs. We invited the insurance company underwriters to evaluate our security improvements. After looking at the increased security measures we put in place, they lowered our rates.”

Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, CA, had similar key control issues. With nearly 20,000 members, the church faced the challenge of raising the level of security across its large campus. Facility manager John Jackson wanted to implement a security system that was affordable and scalable. “As a church, we are concerned about every penny that is spent. Our first concern was keeping track of physical assets that help us minister to our people,” he says.

Calvary Chapel implemented a comprehensive security system that includes the CyberLock system. “With the electronic lock and key system, we can change someone’s access privileges on-the-fly without issuing cut-keys. Each person’s electronic key is programmed with the permissions they need to do their job, so we have overall tighter control. We also have electronic padlocks on the shipping cases that store our recording and sound equipment so only authorized people can access it,” he says.

When churches secure their buildings and assets through the use of practical and effective security measures, they not only increase security in their premises but also lower insurance premiums and reduce re-keying costs.

— James T. McGowan is vice president of sales and marketing at Videx in Corvallis, OR. www.videx.com

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