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Charleston Churches Discussing Security After Massacre At Emanuel

By Barney Blakeney

Special to the NNPA from The Charleston Chronicle

This week as Charleston remains in a state of shock after the premeditated murder of nine participants in the Bible study session at Mother Emanuel, many local church congregations held conversations about security in the wake of the carnage.

Charity Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Rev. Nelson Rivers, a former national NAACP field operations vice president and current religious affairs and operations director for the National Action Network said public discussion of security measures for any facility is counterproductive, but he offered that security cameras, locked doors and entry buzzers are among the equipment churches should consider standard in their security systems.

Location also should be considered, Rivers said. Emanuel, one of the city’s most historic edifices, is located in Charleston’s historic district. And because churches are places where all are welcome, that location makes it and several other downtown churches vulnerable to insidious attacks.

One member of Emanuel suggested that someone in the church have in their possession a firearm any time the church is open. Mt. Zion AME Church Pastor Rev. John Paul Brown rejected the suggestion saying the church is no place for firearms. Sam Jenkins, security advisor at Wesley United Methodist Church in Charleston said instead, cameras at all entrances are necessary. At some point people just have to trust God, he said.

Brown said in addition, parishioners always should trust their common sense. That means locking doors that don’t lead into areas where services are being conducted and he suggests consulting experts in security. “We want to take necessary precautions, but we don’t want to overreact,” he said.

Read full story in New Journal and Guide, July 2-8, 2015

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