Newberry pastor: 'Evil forces' require better church security
NEWBERRY, SC (WIS) - It is not the kind of message you might expect from the pastor of a small Baptist church in rural Newberry County.
But Monty Osborne believes his approach to keeping his congregation safe is needed more than ever in the wake of the horrific attack that left more than two dozen people dead at Sutherland Springs Baptist Church in Texas.
"We have an armed set of guys here. We've got a security team that's in place," Osborne says. "We try on every avenue to protect our people, from my oldest member to our smallest of members, knowing that at any point we could be faced with danger."
Osborne heads Fairview Baptist Church near the Kinards community.
He and other church leaders have been working with Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster to improve security and prepare the church to handle a range of other emergency situations, from inclement weather and medical problems to a fire or a missing child.
More than two years ago, Foster began promoting a county-wide church security program called "Safety in the Sanctuary." He says that work began before Dylann Roof killed nine worshippers at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.
But it has taken on added importance since the slaughter in Texas.
"We're to a point in this nation unfortunately where we have to be very conscious of security," Foster says. "We also have to remember churches are communities in and of themselves and they have problems in and of themselves that can lead to violence."
Osborne's mission has been aided by the fact that several members of his congregation are law enforcement officers.
Though not every church allows weapons inside, Osborne says he believes the presence of professional crimefighters and former military personnel like himself adds an extra element of safety and confidence for church members.
Others are also assigned to monitor activities outside as people enter the church, which holds services three times weekly.
"The evil forces of the world and the things that you and I have to fight on a day to day basis and the free will of man entered sin into the world," Osborne says. "God's people have to deal with the consequences from that."
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