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September 19, 2011

Pastors Shot in Florida Church

Church shooting reminds us to create procedures to help protect our staff and parishioners.

This Sunday, a Florida man shot and killed his wife before entering a church a block away. Inside the church, the shooter identified the senior pastor and shot him in the head. He then shot the associate pastor three times, according to WTSP.com, a Tampa news station. Other church members tackled the shooter and held him until authorities arrived.

Sheriff Grady Judd, who was interviewed about the incident, called the intervening parishioners heroes for stepping in like they did. Unfortunately, these parishioners had to react to a horrific and unexpected situation. "If there's one place that you should be able to go on Sunday and worship safely and securely, it should be your church or your synagogue," Judd said. "And, unfortunately, that wasn't the case here this morning."

Judd’s words ring true for all churches. We want our church buildings to be dependably safe and secure. If you haven’t already established policies and procedures for dealing with violence in your church, get started with some helpful resources from ChurchSafety.com. Begin with the free assessment “Is Our Church Secure from Crime and Violence?” then read through the accompanying article “Preparing for the Unthinkable.” If you want additional training on this subject, look to any of the following to help guide your team: Protect Your Church from Crime & Violence, Confronting Gun Violence at Church, and Creating a Safety Team.

Lindsey Learn is assistant editor to the Church Management Team at Christianity Today International.


It is terrible when such a place of safety becomes a place of terrorism. It will be a sad day when there are security officers at every church and everyone is fondled before entering to see if weapons can be found anywhere on the person.

Dear Lord, bring healing to that church in Florida and may the memories be healed in the people there so they can once again find peace and joy within the walls and with the people gathered there. Amen

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