Students, faculty discuss church safety at Wayland Baptist University
PLAINVIEW, TX (KCBD) - The question of what would cause the Sutherland Springs church shooting was on the mind of students at Wayland Baptist University in Plainview on Monday.
Educators in the School of Religion and Philosophy not only provided theological explanations but ways those future church leaders can be proactive in preventing a similar situation.
Over the years, the school has been including discussions of church safety in regular course teachings. Dr. Clinton Lowin. Dean of the School of Religion and Philosophy said this is important as we live in a world he calls broken.
"We try to give them the tools necessary to prevent situations like this from happening, reviewing their policies and procedures at the churches they serve, looking at if they do have a safety and security committee that can look at the realities of a changed world, a world now where folks are free to do different things and enter into churches unknown and carry weapons in ways such as this," Dr. Lowin said.
Discussions also include the need for background checks of church employees and the topic of concealed carry and how some churches have stricter policies than others.
"Churches are sort of in the middle," Dr. Lowin said. "Do we prevent people from carrying concealed weapons or do we allow for them to do so? That's a dialogue we have with our students, to make sure they understand the changing world causes you to look at things that are changing in how you run a church, how you interact with those that have brokenness."
Dr. Lowin tells KCBD his students are also educated on active shooting scenarios and law enforcement policies and procedures from Wayland Campus Police. However, the school's teachings in serving in Christian education is also in hopes of reaching anyone who may otherwise end up as that shooter.
"What would happen if you might reach that person before they get to that place, at that point and help them in their brokenness and listen to them?," Dr. Lowin said. "Place share with them so that we may not hear their name in the news, we don't hear the circumstance of an active shooter taking lives but creating opportunity for restoration even for that person that is struggling."
For small churches like the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, security resources may be scarce. Dr. Lowin said simple procedures like designating a greeter or trained church members at entrances can help. However, he says the community must come together to assist with those security needs.
"Where a small church in a country town might not have the resources to do it, a church in a county seat might be able to extend a ministry to that church to provide information, resources or even training to be able to do those things," Dr. Lowin said. "The church is not just an independent agency. This is where denominational lines have to be cross and extend ourselves to brothers and sisters of various denominations for the sake of the Kingdom of God."
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