Sanctuary: Churches Across Upstate Arming Themselves Against Violence -

Sanctuary: Churches Across Upstate Arming Themselves Against Violence

By Melissa Keeney

Hidden on a farm in Fountain Inn, they call it a training ground.  There, a few faithful recruits are part of David Bailey's trusted team.  "I was U.S. Special Forces, what you would call a Green Beret," Bailey says.  After spending half his life in the military, Bailey is now in charge of a different army.  He heads up "Secure Our Flocks", a private security company focused on protecting churches from violence and crime.  "Our job is a very serious one," Bailey says.  He also calls the job a "higher calling."  "I train the trusted servants of the church."

Their classroom is not a sanctuary, but a gun range.  There, nearly a dozen volunteers who are part of Bailey's church security team train for just about every situation that they could face in their house of worship.  It's a group so secretive, Seven on your Side is not identifying team members, by name or face.  Even naming their church would be a risk.  Bailey says, it's to protect them, while they're protecting the people of God.  "No one entering that church could ever know how many they're up against, and that's what I want.  It gives us the advantage.  It's my bear cave.  Come on in if you want to."

Seven on Your Side discovered it's a mission now shared by congregations across the country, after numerous incidents of violence over the last several years.  Over the last decade, 167 people have lost their lives because of violence in churches nationwide, according to Carl Chinn, an expert on church security.  That's why Bailey's business is growing.  He's teamed up with Noel Lasure, a Greenville firearms expert.  The pair is seeing more ministers asking for help with safety, who are looking to arm themselves and their church against danger.  Lasure says, "The smaller churches that are not as large and maybe don't have as much money in their coffers are handling things themselves."

The security teams are prepared for anything, from breakins in the church parking lot to even minor medical emergencies.  On the day we visited Bailey and Lasure's training, the team was going through first responder training, learning how to do the simple wound treatment for minor cuts or burns. also trained in how to wrap a wound.  The two leaders say it's what they see the most of.  "You prepare for the medical stuff, the little kid that chokes on a plastic toy, you're going to see that elderly person fall."

In the field, the skilled shooters have to prepare for the worst.  Many of them had never picked up a gun before this.  One team member told us, "I had never picked up a gun and shot it before eight months ago."  About half of Bailey's group carries a concealed weapon in service.  They say it's a fine line, securing the sanctuary while still letting members worship without fear.  "Part of the problem is when you start talking about church security, people have these mental images of armed gunmen walking around a church," says Lasure.  "Nobody wants that, and we don't want that either.  We want a church we can go to and worship without having any problems."

So far, they've done their duty.  Of the several churches Bailey consults, he says none have had any major security issues.  Members of the team want to keep it that way.  "When it comes down to it, I need to keep my family safe and and keep there families safe, and keep everybody else safe that walks in that door, that's why I do it," says one team member.

Bailey says it's a mission they're committed to, faithfully protecting their own.  "We have to train for the worst, but pray for the best."


Powered by WorldNow

250 International Dr.
Spartanburg, S.C. 29303

Telephone: 864.576.7777
Fax: 864.587.5430

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.