Small Kansas churches talk security in wake of Texas shooting

PEABODY, Kan. (KSNW) – Active shooter training is not the first thing on the mind of most pastors on any given day. But on Monday, some pastors are planning to get active shooter training in the wake of the Sutherland Springs, Texas shooting.

“We seem to think in small towns we are protected and we are kind of immune from the big-city crime, and it was just a shock that these things can happen anywhere nowadays,” says Angela DeFisher, pastor at the Peabody United Methodist Church. “You have to be smart and realize there are dangers wherever you are. So, lock your doors at night, take precautions if you’re out walking by yourself. I guess my motto has always been plan for the worst and hope for the best.”

DeFisher said her church doesn’t have security in place other than locking doors and having some other measures to secure the church. But after the shooting in Texas, she’s reaching out to learn more about safety.

“We haven’t really discussed it to this point but we will be. I was checking and found this morning that our conference offers something for some active shooter training,” says DeFisher. “I think church… should be a safe place. But the church is also open to the broken people of the world. We have to be open and give the love of Christ to them.”

A few miles away in the tiny town of Elbing, the pastor at Zion Mennonite Church says the small-town, small-church shooting in Texas hits home.

“It’s (church shooting) always a horrific notion, yet again, and this is a setting very close to what our own is. So we can somewhat envision this going on,” says Zion Mennonite Church Pastor, Ray Reimer. “We obviously aren’t hiring guards, anything like that. We don’t in any official way screen people as they come in. I know some larger churches do both of those. We do what a lot of trainers, homeland security and other folks do recommend for situations like this sort… just simply try to be aware of our surroundings, cognizant of who’s coming in.”

Reimer says, as a Mennonite congregation, Zion has a faith culture that is pacifist in nature.

“We don’t encourage people to bring weapons to our church, and as far as I know, no one does,” says Reimer. “This goes very immediately I think to some core theological values. We value life in this congregation and I think all people of faith do.”

Reimer says he will talk to his church leadership about an emergency plan but, realistically, weapons in church is not something he will advocate.

In Peabody, Defisher says they won’t be making drastic changes, but they will talk over the latest shooting to come up with an emergency plan.

“I’ll be talking this over, yes,” says DeFisher, “and coming up with a plan and practicing it probably at least once in the coming weeks and months to kind of have it fresh in our mind.”

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