Akron churches join forces to improve security

Posted at 7:56 PM, Jul 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-21 19:57:56-04

On Monday, members of several Summit county churches will head to the University of Akron to get a crash course on how to react in a crisis.

"In this day and age, who knows what could happen, walk could walk through the front door?" said Reverand Richard Gordon of Faith Lutheran.

It's a risk Reverend Gordon knows his church faces on a daily basis.

"Bombings and violence in churches. It catches your attention," he said.

Reverend Gordon's biggest fear is that someone will use his congregation to make a statement through a terrorist activity, shooting, or hostage situation.

To better prepare for any of those scenarios, and beef up plans already in place, Reverend Mark Ford of Love Network says there is security where it is not always visible.

Members of local churches will gather on Monday for a faith-based security summit.

"With some of the things that have happened across the nation, it has made people more aware of the importance of getting out in front of and being proactive," Reverend Ford said.

Crisis teams, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security will arm faith-based leaders with the tools to tackle the risks they face.

"Any plans or procedures we can enact to assure that safety, we have to be interested in," Reverend Gordon said.

But Reverend Henry McNeil of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church says he's not worried. He feels he has God's protection.

"We feel we are protected by the divine providence of God," said Reverend McNeil "The kinds of things we see happening on television just hasn't happened in our churches and wouldn't for the most part."

Reverend McNeil feels smaller churches like his are less likely to be on a gunman or terrorist's radar.

"How do you know when someone is going to do that?" Reverend McNeil said. "You don't know that. So there you have to depend on the Lord to take care of you."

Other congregations are not comfortable taking the "it can't happen here" approach.

"I think that it would be absolutely a travesty to take that position, because it can happen," said Reverend Ford.