(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The deadly Texas church shooting is sending shock waves through America's communities, including right here in St. Joseph.
Local pastors are reacting to the news of 26 people being killed by a gunman in a Sutherland Springs, Texas church on Sunday.
"I was absolutely horrified," Pastor Jason Moore, First Baptist Church, said. "To think that something could happen is just horrifying because those people aren't just acquaintances, they're family."
It is not uncommon for churches to be the target of acts of violence. In 2015, a gunman shot and killed nine people during a church service in Charleston, South Carolina.
Pastor Jim Barnett, Wesley United Methodist Church, said several members of his church are voicing concerns over safety during a Sunday service.
“There’s always that concern that anything could happen. We can’t determine what other people are going to do," Barnett said.
Several local churches are working to combat the recent threats by adding more security measures.
Wesley United Methodist, Evolution Methodist and First Baptist Church all said they have people in charge of guarding the doorway while a service is in progress.
“We’re pretty conscious of our security. We make sure that all of our exits are manned at all times so we keep control of who’s coming in and out of the building," Moore said.
Evolution Methodist Church added magnetic locks to their doors so they can see who is entering and exiting the building.
“We’re just recognizing and being wise to do those things," Pastor Leanna Van Zandt Nauman, Evolution Methodist, said. "So, we took some of that upon our own, but Charleston of course did make a big difference. It motivated us to really get in action to get things done.”
Wesley United Methodist said they have formed a "safety team" that has been in practice for three months. The team designates people to keep an eye on each exit of the building.
"We have experienced some folks in our parking lot roaming around looking in cars, and we stopped them because of our safety team," Barnett said.
A Colorado church security consultant said over 170 shootings have taken place in a house of worship in 2017 alone.
“I hope and pray it’s not the norm. I hope and pray that this will be the last mass shooting," Barnett said. "I hope and pray that things are turned around in America."
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