AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)-After the recent church shooting in Sutherland Springs Texas, local church leaders are using this time to remind their congregation about the importance of church safety. At Stevens Creek Church, Pastor Marty Baker implemented a church safety nearly ten years ago in an effort to create a safe and welcoming environment. The safety teams includes first responders, a parking and traffic team, as well as a concealed weapons team of trained volunteers.
Pastor Baker says after hearing the news of the shooting in Texas his heart immediately went out to the families that were impacted.I think about that local church and I think about how they’ were a family and now 26 members of their family are
At Stevens Creek their congregation has grown and so has their need for safety and security. In addition to their safety team the church has also hired uniformed officers on-site every week to ensure the congregation is covered
Pastor Eric Kennedy spearheads that team and says over the course of 15 years they’ve grown from having only four members to nearly 90.
“We don’t want to come across as Police or security, we like using the word safety and I think that gives people in the church the safety that they need to feel to come worship,” Kennedy says.
He says that with Georgia being an open carry state, protecting the congregation is a priority.
“We cant stop anyone from carrying a weapon in the church, A concelead weapon if they have a permit they can carry. If they want to be on our team then we know that they’re carrying so we can place them where we want in the auditorium and throughout the church.” Kennedy told NewsChannel 6.
They have also partnered with the Columbia County Sheriff’s office to download an install Safeguarding Houses of Worship also known as SHOW. The mobile app was developed to create a church safety plan in case of an emergency. Pastor Marty encourages every church large or small to start considering ways to protect their church.
“I would just encourage those Pastors to develop a small volunteer team that maybe it starts as just three or four guys that could help provide a safety team in your local church and that would be on a rotating basis. Just take a step and do something,” Marty says.
The team users surveillance monitors to observe several entrances to the church as well as the auditorum and sanctuary. Marty says they are always looking for volunteers for the safety team. To be considered for the concealed weapons team, members must go through the proper protocol to be trained and must have a license to carry.
To learn more about the SHOW app call:
Lt. Dan Hendricks, Columbia County Sheriff’s Office – (706) 504-7146
Pastor Eric Kennedy, Stevens Creek Church – (706) 863-7002