Do churches need heightened security?

Pastor Kyle Searcy of Fresh Anointing House of Worship
Pastor Kyle Searcy of Fresh Anointing House of Worship
Adkisson was arrested for Sunday's church shooting.
Adkisson was arrested for Sunday's church shooting.

By Mark Bullock - bio | email

As the initial shock wares off, there's a new debate over whether a recent shooting at a Knoxville, Tennessee church is cause for alarm at other churches around the country.

"It (the shooting) saddens me greatly, but it doesn't surprise me," said Montgomery pastor Kyle Searcy.

Searcy explained that religion has always been a target for violence. That's why his church, Fresh Anointing House of Worship, has always had a security plan, which includes surveillance cameras and security guards.

"We've got a good security team. We've got a lot of measures to keep people safe, so by the grace of God, we haven't had any incident," he said.

But Searcy also admits, in the future, there are no guarantees.

In Tennessee, church members themselves were credited for saving lives by tackling the gunman and holding him for police.

"When I saw the men rushing him, I got up to join them," said church member Jamey Parkey.

The gunman allegedly chose the Unitarian Universalist Church because of its liberal views.

On the web site of Montgomery's Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, the pastor wrote, "Unfortunately, such violence is not new to us..."

Rev. Paul Britner went on to say, "The church will continue to speak out for freedom, reason, and acceptance of one another and to welcome everyone who comes in good faith seeking spiritual nourishment."

It's a common sentiment among pastors of all faiths -- continuing their mission, despite the threat of violence, and submitting to a higher power.

"There's a scripture in the Bible that says the horse is prepared for battle, but safety is of the Lord," Pastor Searcy said. "What that basically means is we do everything we can in the natural world to make sure people have a safe environment, then we back off and trust God."

Church violence isn't just something that happens in other places. Two years ago, police were called to a church in Montgomery when a congregational dispute got out of hand.

And last year, a man was shot and killed outside a local church. It's believed, however, in that incident, the location was simply a coincidence.

The church shooting in Tennessee claimed two lives. The alleged gunman, 58-year-old Jim Adkisson, was scheduled to make his first court appearance the week of August 4th.