After the massacre at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs in Texas that killed 26 people and injured 20 more, churches across Kentucky and around the nation are struggling with the issue of increasing security, while still being welcoming.
Ministers in Somerset, Kentucky were already on high alert because a church caretaker had recently been murdered by a homeless man asking for food.
The murder of 70-year Carolyn New, widow of the former church pastor, inside Denham Street Baptist Church in Somerset in August put the town on edge. Then the shooting at the Texas church made security a priority.
David Paddick is senior minister at Southern Heights Christian Church in Somerset.
“There’s a lot of discussion. I’ve talked with other ministers in town about what else we can do. I know some have installed security. Some have even gone as far as to have security teams in place that are armed. We didn’t feel like those kinds of things were necessarily what we wanted to do.”
Paddick said his church has about 80 members and some visitors, especially during the summer, and the congregation decided the main element of their security is to have men stationed in the foyer, so if there is an incident it’s kept out of the sanctuary. Those men will not be armed. The church is also creating a crisis plan with details like evacuation routes to be given to every member of the congregation so they’ll know what to do if an incident should arise.