Representatives of several hundred churches are expected to attend a conference later this summer to learn how to provide security for their facilities.
Chuck Chadwick heads the National Organization of Church Security and Safety Management, an organization that is specifically designed to help churches avoid deadly church attacks like the one this week in Charleston, South Carolina, that claimed the lives of nine people. Chadwick suggests one aspect of vigilance is for churches to have gatekeepers who are armed and prepared to respond to potential or real acts of violence.
"We have a firm belief that people need to be trained and we need to have some kind of intervention-capable person at the church to be what we call an 'initial responder,'" he shares. "They used to say hide in the closet and call 9-1-1. Well, anymore that's not good enough; people are going to die."
Hundreds of churches have signed to have representatives on hand at an upcoming conference to learn the latest suggestions and techniques.
"We're having our 11th annual national convention in August ... at New Life Church, where there was another shooting in 2009 where two people were killed by a young man who came in with an assault rifle," Chadwick recalls.
In the midst of that assault, former Minneapolis police officer Jeanne Assam, a member of the Colorado Springs congregation, shot and wounded 24-year-old Matthew Murray, who then killed himself.
Chadwick says even if violent acts can't be prevented they can be minimized by churches by taking positive security steps.
NOCSSM's founding scripture is 1 Chronicles 9:21-24, which describes "gatekeepers" who were responsible for guarding the entrance of the tabernacle.