Local churches train to combat violence in places of worship

Church officials in Wichita attend a training session to prepare them for violence during their worship services. (KSN photo)

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Workplace violence continues to push organizations and businesses around the country to step up their security but for places of worship, security can pose different challenges.

About a year ago, KSN attended a special security training session for churches and because of the response, it’s happening again.

First Church of the Nazarene is similar to other churches around Wichita, except it’s paving the way for church safety.

Today and tomorrow, Saturday, March 4, the church is hosting a training session that aims to combat violence surrounding places of worship.

“It does not matter where or the size of your town or the denomination. It happens everywhere,” said Galen Womack, the chief security officer at First Church of the Nazarene.

The two-day seminar is being presented by Strategos International, a private security company.

The guidelines are based off a presidential secret service three-ring model, Womack said.

The first ring starts with a focus outside the building, making sure anyone who shouldn’t be allowed in gets in.
The second ring focuses immediately inside the front door and around the hallways.

Finally, the third ring involves keeping the sanctuary safe, specifically the worship leader and children.

Getting organized is the first step, Womack said. Being prepared can cost little to no money.

“Big bulky coat in August. That’s a big no no. Big backpacks, people that we don’t know; they’re not allowed to just walk down to the front of the church in the middle of the service,” Womack said. “We keep seats open in the back row, ‘tell ‘em we’re glad you’re here but we prefer that you not interrupt the service and we’ve got a seat right here for you.’”

There’s also a specific program used to keep children safe during services, called Kid Safe.

Kid Safe is a check-in system used when kids are dropped off in the classrooms during church.

Each child has an account set up with a list of names of people who can check them in and out. A bar code sticker that is only good for that morning is printed.

One sticker goes on the child’s back and the other is given to a guardian. That guardian is the only person allowed to pick the child up after the service is over.

The training sessions this weekend will break down that program and others covering a wide range of subjects.

Last year’s event saw around 35 people from different churches across Kansas. They are expecting similar numbers this year, Womack said.

The training puts a focus on ushers and greeters but is open to anyone who wants to participate.

The event is today from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and tomorrow from 8 a.m. to around 2:30 p.m.

For one session it costs $99 and to attend both session is $160.