CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Mass shootings at schools and businesses seem to be happening with alarming frequency these days. But security concerns are also becoming a big issue in the one place where most people think they should feel safe, which is churches.
“It’s a terrible thing that we should even be talking about this,” said Bill Worth, managing partner with Countermeasure Consulting, which specializes in providing security training for businesses and churches.
Pastors are now being forced to do more than prepare sermons, and they are planning emergency response plans as well.
“We want our families to be safe, and we want them to feel safe,” said Dave Corlew, senior pastor at Arlington Countryside Church in Arlington Heights.
But after nine people, including a pastor, were gunned down at a Charleston, South Carolina church, other houses of worship began wondering if it could happen to them.
“That really rattled a number of people in our congregation, including myself, that was a horrifying incident and I had people approaching me and saying have we ever thought about how we would handle this or what are we going to do about that?” Corlew said.
On Monday night, the Arlington Countryside Church in Arlington Heights hosted a special training seminar, inviting other churches and the community to learn what they need to do in case of the unthinkable.
“So it’s react, if you think you hear a gunshot, and then its escape, move, start going, don’t think about things, just get out the doors in order for you to survive,” Worth said.
Staff, greeters and ushers need to be looking out for suspicious activity and then report it. People in church need to know where they exits are so they can get out, Worth said.
“I’m a retired school teacher and we always practiced stranger danger,” said Sue Hoerauf, who attends Arlington Countryside Church. “And I feel like I want to be aware and prepared as well as I was then.”
Pastor Corlew says he doesn't want to push the panic button, but he wants to be prepared.
“We’re all about faith and we’re all about trusting God for our protection. But the average church-goer when they go to bed at night, they lock their front door,” Corlew said.
He added that he hopes to have a security plan in place by Easter, but he’s not sure at this point if it would involve armed security personnel or not.