Englewood Baptist Church hosts security workshop; more than 1,000 attend



JACKSON, Tenn. — A local church offered a free security workshop in light of the recent acts of violence in the Volunteer State and across the country.

Church leaders are now becoming more proactive to keep their congregations safe. Some of the recent tragic incidents are examples of how places of worship have become targets for violence. Faith-based leaders are now having to balance how to be a place that’s open and accessible while maintaining security.

Word traveled fast as leaders with Englewood Baptist Church announced they would host a church security workshop.

“We just wanted to kind of open up the dialogue with other churches, whether you’re a church of 50 people or 5,000 people,” Englewood’s Connect Ministry Coordinator Jordan Hall said.

The venue had to be changed as more than 600 people RSVP’d for the event, and when doors opened more than 1,000 showed up.

“You hate to think you have to prepare for disasters at church, but the reality of today’s world is that’s the case,” Capt. Phillip Kemper with the Jackson Police Department said.

Although it may be hard to believe, incidents such as church shootings have become more common.

“Get churches in West Tennessee together to figure out if this happened here in West Tennessee, what would that look like? What would our response look like?” Hall said.

Attendees heard from several local law enforcement officers about what to do if a situation were to occur. “If you sit back, you don’t say anything and something happens, who’s at fault?,” Madison County Sheriff John Mehr said.

The goal is to discuss security issues and concerns.

“The time to plan for something, try to prepare for something, is before it happens,” Capt. Kemper said. “In the middle of a situation, it’s chaos.”

Organizers say Englewood is fortunate enough to have a security team in place, but for many churches with smaller congregations, the workshop was a necessity.

“I was impressed by everybody that spoke,” Victory Worship Center Pastor J.P. Stovall said. “Certainly our local law enforcement are willing to help, and that always makes you feel good.”

Organizers said the incredible turnout is a demonstration of how important it is to make sure churches are well-equipped when it comes to improving security.

“It’s encouraging that people want to be informed and people want to try to prepare for things and put plans in place,” Capt. Kemper said.

Kemper presented attendees with tactics on what to look for when facing an active shooter. Organizers would not allow WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News to record that portion of the training due to security reasons, but police suggest to always be observant of your surroundings.

Church leaders said this is only the beginning and they hope to have more workshops in the future.

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