Churches in the Valley ramp up safety measures

Churches in the Valley ramp up safety measures

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Aftermath from the violent rampage against members of the Emmanuel AME Church in South Carolina can still be felt across the country.

It was an early summer hate crime aimed at starting a race war. Nine lives were lost in a massacre that shook the foundations of houses of worship across the country.

"It was a horrendous thing that happened to that church and to that community," said Reverend T.J. Davis Jr. at Saint James CME in Columbus.

Davis says his church is boosting safety measures so the congregation can have an increased sense of safety.

Muscogee County Marshal Greg Countryman is touring churches across the valley to help with the cause; teaching pastors and worshipers alike that while their house of faith could be an easy target, "because the doors are always open, means that it makes them a little more vulnerable."

However, Countryman said there's also something they can do about it.

Countryman recommends churches form a security team to ward off anyone plotting against a church, be it a simple burglary or a heinous rampage.

He recommends basic security like an alarm and camera system, parking patrol, and communication system set in place.

Reverend Davis says pastors and congregation leaders need to step up and acknowledge the reality of lurking dangers.

"Have an open mind, and understand that we as shepherds have a great responsibility making sure that our congregations are safe," said Davis.

"The ultimate goal is to make every church safer than what it is today," said Countryman.

On Tuesday, July 7, Countryman said more than 50 churches have contacted him to set up a safety workshop since this story first aired on Monday, July 6. 

If you want to schedule special training for your congregation you can call the Muscogee County Marshal's Office at 706-225-4385.

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