SCOTTS, Mich. — Did they know how many rounds a gunman fired into First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas?
Did they know how many little boys and girls he killed?
Did they know there was a second violent church attack that same day in Fresno, Calif.?
Barry Young’s voice rose as he led an “intruder awareness and response training” for church personnel Saturday (Nov. 11) at Prairie Baptist Church in Scotts, Mich.
“What happened in Texas isn’t new. It’s just larger than normal,” said Young, the vice president of church security ministries at Grandview, Mo.-based Strategos International, a Christian company that teaches people at schools, churches and other institutions how to deal with a violent, armed intruder.
“We’ve got to get church leaders’ heads out of the sand.”
It was the weekend after the deadliest church shooting in American history, after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton urged viewers on Fox News, “We need people in church — professional security or at least arming some of the parishioners or congregation — so they can respond when something like this happens again.”
As church leaders across the country considered how to respond — to comfort their congregations but also to make them feel safe — nearly 80 people from churches across Michigan, Indiana and Illinois gathered at Prairie Baptist for the training presented by Strategos, the largest church security training ministry in the world, according to Young.
Strategos, which is affiliated with Abundant Life Church in Lee’s Summit, Mo., southeast of Kansas City, has trained more than 20,000 church leaders since 2007. But since the most recent Texas church shooting, Young said he’s been overwhelmed with requests and is filling up his schedule so quickly that one Boston church will have to wait a year for its training.