SPARTANBURG CO., S.C. (WSPA) – 7 News spoke with a local church that is stressing the importance of having safety measures in place after our nation faced yet another tragic church shooting that left two people dead.
The gunman opened fire in a sanctuary in Texas. He was killed when churchgoers fired back.
The pastor at Mountain View Baptist Church in Cowpens told 7 News he feels confident his congregation would be fully prepared if anything like this were to ever happen at his church.
“Utter sadness. Almost disbelief,” Pastor Steve Griffith said.
That was Griffith’s first reaction when he heard about the shooting that happened at the Texas church on Sunday.
“There are more evil people in this world,” he said.
That’s why, Griffith said, his church has security measures in place, like cameras that surround their facility and are monitored 24/7.
They also have a safety team, made up of 32 members, who are all licensed to carry a weapon and stay armed during all services.
“We didn’t want anybody staying home because of the preconceived thoughts of an unsafe environment,” Griffith said.
Those same members take turns monitoring each entrance to the church during services, and Griffith said all of his members know about one of his biggest rules if something were to ever happen.
“To get down under or below the pews,” Griffith said.
If a threat ever presented itself at his church, Griffith said he feels certain one of his church members would react the same way the man in Texas did, who’s now being called a hero.
“Obviously, he was trained. Obviously, he knew how to handle the firearm. Obviously, he knew exactly who the target was. And, with one shot, he took the danger completely out of the sanctuary; and, no doubt, saved countless lives,” Griffith said.
“Ministries need to know that this could happen to anybody at any time,” Jason Rochester said.
Rochester told 7 News his company in Spartanburg provides liability coverage for churches who decide to invest in these kinds of safety measures.
“You want people to know that it’s safe to come to church,” he said. “You want them to be able to focus on the worship service and to hear God’s word.”
Rochester recommends inviting law enforcement to train at your church, making sure church members know where all of the exits are located, and always pay attention to your surroundings.
Pastor Griffith said, while they want to be welcoming and invite people into their church, being right off of I-85, they have to be careful, and if someone looks suspicious, they aren’t allowed inside.
“No backpacks. No long trench coats,” Griffith said. “We’re just not going to allow it.”
Griffith told 7 News he considers his church his family and he wants them to feel at home when they come to worship.
He believes having security measures in place gives them that peace of mind.
“You could lay down your head at night and say, ‘You know what? We tried to stop it.’ We will not look back with regret and say we should’ve had some security,” he said.
After Sunday’s shooting in Texas, Griffith said he’s considering holding an active shooter training event for his entire congregation, and he recommends that all places of worship look into forming a security team.
In the meantime, he said he will be keeping the Texas church and the affected families in his thoughts and prayers.
For more information on different security options for churches, click here.