By Hecklerfan - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

By Hecklerfan – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

The ‘protecting the flock’ phrase has literally started to mean physical protection

The 26th Avenue located First Baptist Church of Meridian, along with a few other churches saw the composition of their congregations change from the faithful to priests, preachers, and pastors. On the pulpit was no holy person. Speaking into the mic instead was special agents of Federal Bureau of Investigation and a designated person from the county sheriff department. The two government agencies came as a team to educate the area congregations on matters of security. The audience was also introduced to the Mississippi Church Protection Act. This document provides a few particular protections to all church members if an emergency situation arises.

The reason for such an extraordinary gathering was the November 5 shooting. The mass shooting happened approximately 300 miles to the south of Plano. The scene of carnage was the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs in Texas. A total of 25 people were killed, ranging from a 1-year-old baby to an elderly person aged about 77 years.

According to professionals, even those who have the license and all required authorization to carry firearms require special training. If they have, then only they can respond to the active shooter situations. It was recommended to all churches that they develop policies for minimum qualifications and training for any individual having a firearm. They should also involve the professional military and law enforcement personnel whenever they get the chance in such situations. One law enforcement officer claimed that the horrific event at Sutherland Springs was not an issue of gun control, but of sin. He went on to recommend that it is vital to safeguard believers. Reverend Jack Graham, the pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church, said that one of the duties of the pastor is to guard believers or flock. The word protection, in this case, means both physically and biblically. The physical part is being looked into through these security events. Such events are being sponsored by the churches themselves.

Security officials outlined the three actions which a civilian must take when in the vicinity of an active shooter. These three are run, then hide, and if it is possible to do so, fight. Matthew Campbell, a special agent with the FBI, said law enforcement cannot come immediately when called and thus church attendees are responsible for own safety. The Mississippi Church Protection Act led to churches having formalized security programs.


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