Thursday, December 31

Church Money Stolen

Conway church money stolen SCNow

"Church leaders in Conway are trying to figure out who stole thousands of dollars from a safe inside the church office last weekend."

Could this be another inside job? This is the second incident this week that involved money stolen from a church safe.

Tuesday, December 29

Theft of Church Safe

“There appeared to be no forced entry, and more than 50 people have access to the area where the safe was kept, according to police… It is believed that between $90,000 to $100,000 in cash and checks was in the safe.”

This apparently seems to be an inside job. Police stated that the church had surveillance cameras of the area. I have two main thoughts in relation to this story.

First, why was there so much money in the safe? It is possible that the church collected that money Sunday and was planning on depositing it into the bank Monday. Is there another way to deposit the money? Can it be placed in a deposit box on Sunday? Can it be electronically deposited over the Internet? Many banks now have this option.

Second, if the church is bringing in $100,000 a week then why did they not have a surveillance camera installed in the church? A simple cost analysis would show you that the money lost is much more expensive then the cost of a good camera system.

Monday, December 28

Vigilance Conference

July 20-22, 2010 I will have the privilege of assisting with the first ever “Vigilance Safety and Security Conference”.  I have teamed up with the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY to help put together a conference that will help support churches, pastors, and security team members advance their understanding in the topic of church safety and security. The seminary should officially release the conference details sometime in January. Please continue to check this link for more information! I will post more details on this blog as them become available.

Sunday, December 27

Pope Attacked!

In my opinion it would be hard to argue that no other church organization provides better coverage for their religious leader then the Vatican City. A dual responsibility between the Swiss Guard and the Vatican Police, the Pope is considered and protected as a world leader. He is the Head of State to the Vatican City. I did not know this until a few years back; however, the Vatican even has an Embassy in Downtown Washington, DC.

Although the leaders of most churches cannot claim to be an official Head of State we can still learn from this incident. The leaders of our churches and religious institutions attack both wanted and unwanted attention. We need to stay alert to those who may be interested in causing them harm.

Saturday, December 26

Church Bookkeeper Steals Money

"Eighty-one checks and more than thirty thousand dollars. That's all it took to land forty-two-year-old Ginger Kaye Vintson behind bars, arrested for allegedly stealing money from First Church of the Nazarene"

Thursday, December 24

Fraud Targets Churches

 In the last month, someone posing as a member of First Baptist Church and Centenary United Methodist Church has ordered thousands of dollars worth of mobile phones from Sprint...Bowling said large churches can be particularly vulnerable to scams and fraud because they often have a heavy flow of visitors and deliveries. "It's terrible to grasp that it's going on, but people have to be really wise," she said. "It's identity theft, is what it is. You think you're safe in the church, and you're not."

Wednesday, December 23

Nativity Scene Stolen From Church

"It was a cowardly deed that even Scrooge would never commit."

As I have researched church related crimes this week I have been shocked at how many reports are available in reference to thefts associated with churches. Every year there is a pattern associated with thefts in relation to holiday decorations. This year has been no different.

Picture from: Danville News

Tuesday, December 22

Blizzard 2009 – Church Safety and Security

A large part of the country was hit by a blizzard this past weekend. Below are a few safety tips to consider in reference to the snow and your church facility:

~ Are all emergency exits clear of snow?
~ Are all fire hydrants completely visible and clear of snow?
~ Are all fire department connections also known as building sprinkler connection clear and visible?
~ Are all sprinkler rooms clear of snow, specifically so exterior doors are free to open?

Remember to keep all sidewalks clear of snow and ice. You do not want the liability of someone slipping and hurting themselves. Even if this still occurs you can show the court that you attempted to rectify the problem by shoveling and salting all walkways and parking areas. If you do nothing then I court may find you fully liable.

This is a good idea; however, I would take it one step further… Why give the fire department one more thing to do before they can save your church facility… Completely clear snow away from fire hydrants.

Clear snow all the way to the base of the fire hydrants. Don’t stop just below the water connections. Remember most fire hydrants have more than one connection. Clear 360˚around the hydrant.

This is the end of a fire department connection. This is a newer style system that allows the fire department to hook up to one end and boost the pressure to a separate location. The FD can then hook up a standpipe pack for initial entry. I tried to find the initial connection and this is all I was able to come up with (see picture below). The sad part was that I knew where is was suppose to be.

Sunday, December 20

Explosives Found in Church

"My secretary was very nervous. She was like, 'I don't think we should stay.' But I said, 'It's been here since May, it's not going to going to blow up right now,'" Peterson said.

Heat, Shock, and Friction are the three main components that can make an explosive detonate. The statement highlighted above is based on pure naiveté. The smallest shift it the nitroglycerin’s state could have caused a large explosion. If you or a member of your congregation thinks they have come into contact with an explosive, leave the building and call the police immediately from the exterior of the building. Do not call the police from your cell phone in front of the suspicious item. The static electricity from your phone may be large enough to cause the device to explode.

What can a small amount of nitroglycerin do?

Saturday, December 19

Children Drugged at Church Day Care

"Parents of an infant say she often seemed groggy after attending a church day care where some workers are accused of giving children an over-the-counter dietary supplement at nap time, their attorney said Wednesday."

Does your church screen its child care workers? Could a camera system have helped prevent this happening?

In the words of Lon Solomon…”Not a sermon, just a thought…”

Friday, December 18

Friday Security Fun!!

It’s time to take a brake from all of this serious stuff and watch a quick video from our friends at the Christian Security Institute…

Thursday, December 17

Thief destroys Church Air Conditioners

Thief destroys church air conditioners for copper pipes

When someone is in need of money they will be willing to do almost anything to get it. This story brings a whole new prospective to securing your facility. I understand that churches can’t lock up their heating and air conditioning units; however, there may be some things you can do to make it less appealing to the bandit. Consider building a fence around your units. This helps for visual esthetics as well as security. If you have a fence then put a lock on the door and use it. Camera’s can be installed to monitor this area as a deterrent. HVAC units are common targets for other type of terrorist related crimes as well (feel free to email me for more information on this). It is good overall practice to secure the air intakes to your facility.

Wednesday, December 16

Cops Hunt Church Burglar

Nassau police are searching for the suspect who stole money from a Massapequa church on Sunday afternoon.

Is your church collecting money for the poor this holiday season? How are you protecting the money? Is it placed in a location that is easy for someone to grab and run? Taking a little time to consider how you are protecting this money may help your church congregation provide for a family in need this Christmas season. Don’t assume that since the money is for the poor that no one will think about stealing it. Poor is a relative term and unfortunately some people look at their own circumstances and will take things into their own hands.

Tuesday, December 15

Church Increases Security After Attack

Click for Article: 

Mueller made the 911 call herself before passing out the day of the attack. She'd been stabbed twice in the chest and once in the abdomen by a man asking for gas money. After the attack they installed self-locking doors and security cameras on nearly every entrance to the church.

It is normal for people to react to a tragic incident after it has occurred. They feel the effect of the tragedy and are willing to invest time and money into making the necessary changes to prevent it from reoccurring. Church’s need to learn from the tragedy of others and not wait till it strikes their local congregation.

Monday, December 14

Armed Vigilantes and Church Security

Richard Hammer, Editor of Church Law Today ( ), gives helpful insight in considering the use of off duty police officers for church security compared to private citizens who have been issued a concealed weapons permit (CWP).

I agree with fellow readers that I would not have used the word "Vigilantes" to describe non law enforcement citizens carrying weapons. If Police Officers are not available then using well trained private citizens may be your best and only option. This video is simply a prospective and is not consider my opinion in all cases.

Sunday, December 13

Liability and Church Security

The below question was asked by a by a children ministry worker from an Assemblies of God church. The answer is given by Richard Hammar, J.D., LL.M., CPA, and legal counsel to The General Council of the Assemblies of God. I found his point applicable to many churches that sublet their building to other churches.

Liability and Church Security

Question: Please help me understand security in my church. As Children’s Ministry Coordinator, I am concerned about unsupervised children in the church. We have a sister church that meets here, and their children are left unsupervised during many events throughout the week. My concern is that the church has many entrances and many areas where a child could be taken quickly. I have tried to get people to understand the importance of adult supervision for these children who roam the church. Do you have any guidelines that could be used concerning this matter?

Answer: The bottom line is that the risk created by your sister congregation’s complete lack of supervision is not limited to that congregation. It extends to your church as well, since you are the property owner. In other words, if a child is abducted, molested, or in any other manner hurt or killed, I can assure you that your church will be named as a defendant if a lawsuit is filed. You need to be satisfied with the level of risk management being exercised by the congregation and also with the amount of insurance coverage that it has obtained. Let me emphasize that adequate insurance is NOT a substitute for risk management. The fact that the congregation has adequate coverage (and I suspect it does not) does not mean that it can continue to completely abdicate its legal duty of providing reasonable supervision. If the congregation cannot provide you with adequate assurance that it is practicing appropriate risk management, then I would not hesitate to terminate its access to your premises at the earliest opportunity consistent with any legal documents you have signed.

Saturday, December 12

Church Security - Baptist Press

In 1999 the Baptist press ran a story on Church Security. It is interesting that after a decade we are still struggling to advance the same message.

The article address three main topics:

Have adequate lighting, both inside and outside.
"Lighting is the No. 1 deterrent to criminal activity," he said.

Have access control.
"We have been into many churches that leave their doors open and allow people to roam the halls at any hour. This is a disaster waiting to happen," he said. "Yes, the church should be open to anyone, and the church is here to minister to everyone. However, just as you wouldn't put a wolf in your child's bedroom and walk away, we must also take the same precautions toward access of God's precious house."

Screen employees and volunteers.

Friday, December 11

Church Emergency - Global Rescue

Does your church send missionaries out into the field? It could be a youth group going to serve an orphanage or long term missionaries abroad. What happens if you get sick or seriously injured while in a remote part of the world. God calls us to reach out to all nations. This includes those nations that the State Department would consider safe and the nations that are not.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” Mathew 28:19 ESV

There are several companies that will offer services to assist you in both a medical emergencies and a security crisis. Thousands of American’s have been caught in countries over the years when civil war has unexpectedly broken out. You can not always rely on the government for quick action. The fees that many of these companies charge are surprisingly low. It worth looking into the next time you travel abroad. I am not endorsing any one company; however, I have included a link to one of the common corporations being used.

Global Rescue

Thursday, December 10

Church Fire

The holidays are approaching fast. This is a quick reminder to remember fire safety at your church. Do not leave open flames burning unattended. Make sure that you have plenty of fire extinguishers available and that all employees are trained in their use.,0,2983534.story

Church fire in Ohio accidental, started near unattended advent wreath with burning candles

Fire Safety Tools Reminders:

Wednesday, December 9

Should Churches Have Armed Security Guards?

Has your church decided to move forward with starting a security team? Each and every church is different and has seperate needs. I would safely say that they all need some form of security. This could simply be a church member considering the topics we are discussing or it could be a fully staffed armed police force. Understanding that each situation is unique, there are four main options to choose from.

You can use Local Law Enforcement
You can use Contract Security Company
You can use Church Run Security Force
Or you can use a Combination of the Three

Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company offers this advice when considering armed security at your facility.

Team composition—Will you use volunteers or hire professional security guards? How many members will you need? How will you screen them?

Risk to Others—What is the likelihood of your security team members being overpowered by an attacker or shooting someone other than the intended target? Could they be accused of using excessive force? How will they be supervised?

Training—How much formal weapons training have security team members received? Are they licensed to carry a weapon in your state? Has their experience included training in resolving conflict with people without using weapons?

Vocation—Are security personnel current or former law enforcement agents? How often do they undergo weapons training?

Before concluding that your church needs armed security guards, do some overall planning in conjunction with local police, your insurance agent, and your attorney. All can give you valuable advice.

Tuesday, December 8

Mark Driscoll on Church Security

After the shooting of Pastor Fred Winters at the First Baptist Church of Maryville, Illinois, (March 8th, 2009) Mark Driscoll, Preaching Pastor at Mars Hill Church, commented on 5 important topics to consider in reference to Church Security.

1. Does your church have a series of written, known, and practiced emergency plans?

2. How secure is your children’s ministry?

3. Does your church have security?

4. Does your church have a warm relationship with the local police?

5. Does your church have a policy for potentially dangerous people?

Click on the Below Article and Read Driscoll’s Response…

Monday, December 7

Church Security Directory

The Church Security Institute is a new not for profit website designed to help churches and organizations link to professionals in the Church Security industry. The site is a work in progress; however, it is a great resource for those seeking information on Church Safety and Security.

Sunday, December 6

Church Shooting - Houston

HOUSTON - Those weren't church bells ringing at the Market Street Baptist Church in Northeast Houston Saturday morning. It was gunfire ringing out just before 10 a.m.

What is the emotional trigger that causes a person to commit a crime? Specifically, what would have to happen to cause you or someone you know to be willing to take a person hostage and eventually take your own life? I hope that you are never able to come up with an answer to these questions. For me I pray that I am always able to look towards the Lord for strength even in times of trial.

1st Corinthians 10:13 (ESV) No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Unfortunately crimes like this are becoming all too common in our churches across this country. A common trigger that most law enforcement officers would contribute to this action would be directly related to domestic problems within the home. To compound the problem issues tend to surface more during the holidays.

It is important to try to notice signs of aggression prior to a person committing them. Pastors should take this issue seriously and look at how their church counseling programs are being run.

Saturday, December 5

How big is the Threat?

Why is this topic so important? Are churches really that large of a target?

Q: How many religious congregations are there in the United States?

A: There is no official directory for all the congregations in the county, so sociologists of religion have to rely on statistical estimates extrapolated from surveys. These are often disputed, and to complicate matters, thousands of new churches open each year, while thousands of others close. Hartford Institute estimates there are roughly 335,000 religious congregations in the United States. Of those, about 300,000 are Protestant and other Christian churches, and 22,000 are Catholic and Orthodox churches. Non-Christian religious congregations are estimated at about 12,000.

Friday, December 4

Beefed-Up Security Is a Mixed Blessing

For Churches, Beefed-Up Security Is a Mixed Blessing

"Conservative Christian outlet OneNewsNow polled 4,000 churches and found that three-quarters had no security plan"

Does your church have a security plan, or are you like the thousands of churches across America who has never even considered the topic? You do not need to have armed guards or police officers to know what you are going to do in the event of an emergency.

Thursday, December 3

Two men shot at Church Dance

Two men shot and injured outside Ontario church dance

Posted using ShareThis

Each week continues to surprise me as I research this topic of Church Safety and Security. Two men were shot outside of a church dance in Ontario, Canada. My goal is to concentrate on events within the United States; however, this story caught my interest and I thought that it may do the same for you.

Wednesday, December 2

Carbon Monoxide Strikes Again!

Click Link to read  >,0,1309785.story

DES MOINES, Iowa - "Police say more than 30 children and teenagers were taken to hospitals after being sickened by carbon monoxide during a church choir rehearsal in Iowa."

The below link will take you back to a blog post that I wrote at the beginning of November. This article talks about carbon monoxide and gives suggestions on how to protect against it.

Tuesday, December 1

Car Break-In, Shots Fired!

Click Link for Article:,0,1441981.story 

Church parking lots are easy target for those who have an itch for grand theft auto. Just think about it. The bad guys know what time church starts and what time church ends. Unlike a shopping mall with people coming and going as they choose, churches provide an open window of opportunity for those seeking to commit a crime.

What is your church doing to protect itself against thefts in your parking lot? Do you have a parking team that watches over the property during the service? Does your security team do rounds of the parking lot periodically? Even if you are a smaller church with limited resources, you can still assign someone to randomly look at the parking lot two or three times during your meeting. Another benefit is that this keeps down the amount of random advertisements that people tend to place on your car window. Prior to my church monitoring the parking lot many years ago, when would regularly be visited by aggressive advertisers who wanted to take advantage of all the cars parked in the lot. This only led to unwanted flyers and a lot of trash blowing all over our property.

Monday, November 30

Missionary from Southern University Killed

Click Link For Full Story:
Missionary from Southern University Killed in Micronesia - WRCB Channel 3 Chattanooga News, Weather

Missionaries are a topic that we have not talked about yet on this blog. Anytime one travels overseas they are potentially placing themselves in a more hostile environment then if they were to remain in the United States. This statement is going to fluctuate based on the location that they are visiting. It has been my experience that most missionaries tend to travel to locations that are less familiar with the gospel. These same locations also tend to be in more remote areas, many times having higher crime rates and a lower presence of law enforcement. Many of these governments are corrupt and even hostel to the work that the missionaries are attempting to complete. Some of these remote locations have poor health care therefore good medical service is not always available.

Check with your local insurance provider on the many options available for international travel insurance. Don’t get caught overseas without the proper medical and financial coverage.

Sunday, November 29

Texas: Scare of their Life

Click for Article:  

"It's a place where you would think you would be safe, but churchgoers in Madisonville had the scare of their life at the House of Hope Church on Wednesday night."

The above article was brought to my attention for an old co-worker and friend from the fire department (Hat Tip: Matt)

Saturday, November 28

Shot in Head then Crashes into Church

Click Link >
Motorist dies after shot in head, crashes into South Side church :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Metro & Tri-State

You never know what to expect when you wake up each morning... Police are still investigating the cause of this man’s shooting. After being shot in the head his car crashed into the side of a church. By God’s grace no one at the church was injured. There is not much that could have been done to prevent this scenario from occurring. It seems to be a random act unrelated to the church that ended bad.

This story should be a reminder to all of us to look at our current church facility. Are there barriers that are in place that would prevent a vehicle from driving into our building? Most government facilities have changed their security prospective to take this into consideration for all their buildings. The reason is not related to a random person being shot and then crashing into their building, but a more organized attack like a car bomb or suicide attempt that would purposefully involve someone driving the vehicle into the building. I am not suggesting that major construction has to take place at your church, but I am asking you to think about how you can design your church if you may be considering a remodel or new church construction project.

Friday, November 27

“Sorry but I’m poor, Forgive me Lord”

Click for Article:

I know there’s usually money somewhere on church property thanks to the collection plate, but I never realized just how much electronic equipment there is in your average house of worship.

For the fourth time in two years, a building in Ellenwood, Georgia has been broken into by desperate criminals. However, this is the first time the robber has left behind a written plea for forgiveness after his crime.

The criminals wrote the words “Sorry but I’m poor, Forgive me Lord” on a side wall of the church before departing. The words alluded to the fact that the criminals needed money. Often time’s churches are viewed by criminals as easy targets. The writer of the linked article stated: “I know there’s usually money somewhere on church property thanks to the collection plate, but I never realized just how much electronic equipment there is in your average house of worship.” Criminals have realized this too! Most church collect money and it is a source for easy cash during a break-in. Churches big or small tend to have thousands of dollars worth of sound and musical equipment. More times than not these are the items that the criminals are targeting. Music and sound equipment made quick cash when handed over to the local pawn shop!


Why was this church broken into 4 times in two years? From the picture it does not look like it is stuck in the bad part of the inner city…

What could the church have done after the first break-in to make it harder for the 2nd, 3rd & 4th ones to occur? (New Locks, Alarm System, Cameras)

Churches should keep an itemized list of all electronic equipment. This should include serial numbers, photo’s and estimated values. The insurance company will need this information once the items are discovered stolen or damaged. Another law enforcement trick is to have the names, telephone numbers, and fax numbers of all pawn shops in the area. In the event that items are stolen they you can fax your list to all locations which may help you in the recovery of lost items.

Thursday, November 26

Dry Tree vs Watered Tree

Happy Thanksgiving!

The video below is a demonstration showing how flammable a dry Christmas tree can be as opposed to a tree watered regularly. This test was conducted by the National Fire Protection Association and Underwriters Laboratories.

Action Point: 
Water your Christmas Tree Everyday!!

Wednesday, November 25

Fire breaks out in 100-year-old Church

Fire breaks out in 100-year-old West Side church :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Metro & Tri-State

This is yet another example of why you should take a closer look at fire safety at your church!

Arround this time of year many churches, as well as, church members start decorating for the holidays. A common tradition is to place a chismas tree in your home or church facility. The below video illustrates how fast a christmas tree can burn. The video is a result of a test from the National Instutue of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, MD. Make sure that you and your family have a plan in place in the event your home caught on fire. Knowing that there is an increased risk of fire during the holidays churches should consider reminding their congregations of what plans you have in place in the event of a fire emergency.

Tuesday, November 24

FBI Reports Hate Crimes up for Religion

New FBI report shows that hate crimes were up it 2008 over past years.

Of the 7,780 single-bias incidents reported in 2008:
- 19.5 percent were motivated by religious bias.

Report on Religious bias
There were 1,606 hate crime offenses motivated by religious bias in 2008. A breakdown of these offenses shows:

65.7 percent were anti-Jewish.
13.2 percent were anti-other religion.
7.7 percent were anti-Islamic.
4.7 percent were anti-Catholic.
4.2 percent were anti-multiple religions, group.
3.7 percent were anti-Protestant.
0.9 percent were anti-Atheism/Agnosticism/etc.

Click to View Full Report:

Monday, November 23

Assault of Church Secretary

Click Link for Article:  

"After the secretary told Taylor the church had no money and referred him to other organizations, she said he punched her in the face, implied he had a hidden gun"

What are you doing to protect the administrative staff at your church?

Are they left alone in your church building?
Do they sit in an area that is isolated from the rest of the office?
Does your church have a policy for how they should handle strangers entering the building?

Here are a few ideas for you to consider:

Two person rule: Adopt a policy that mandates two people being in the church at all times

Panic Button: Install a button that the secretary can push for an emergency

Telephone Crash Alert: Telephones can be set up to allow for a button to be pushed and permit the phone line to stay open so those on the other end of the phone can hear what is going on. (Speaker Phone Concept)

Camera System: The entry location of your church, as well as, the reception area should be monitored by cameras.

Sunday, November 22

Gunfire in Church Parking Lot

Click for Article > Gunfire in Church Parking

"I could not believe anyone would want to air their differences in a church parking lot..I saw two men in the parking lot..One had been shot multiple times, and the other man was trying to talk on the cell phone...Since authorities had not yet arrived, I was concerned about my own safety and whether the shooter was still nearby."

What should your response be in a situation like this? The article mentions that Stone, who is the pastor of the church, “was concerned about my own safety and whether the shooter was still nearby”. Regardless of this fear he still responded to the church from his home prior to the police arriving. Who was the man on the phone in this article? Was he another victim or was he the perpetrator standing by willing to commit another crime? I applaud Stone for his willingness to respond and help those who were injured; however, I would have cautioned him to wait for the police to arrive to ensure the scene was safe. This is a common practice even for Emergency Medical Services all across the country. If a 911 call is initiated for an incident that may potentially be unsafe, incoming EMS units will stage at an appropriate distance away until police notify them that it is safe to proceed.

Think in advance about what you would do in a similar situation!

Saturday, November 21

Police Warn of thefts in Churches

Click to Read > Police warn of thefts in churches : Home: The Buffalo News

"Here is one Sunday when there are four crimes committed within a very short period. Most likely, all four were committed by the same perpetrator. The thieves certainly didn't target one religion or denomination.”

I am always amazed at how many people walk into church on Sunday’s, plop down their purse to save a seat and then turn around and walk back out to the lobby of the church. After speaking with some of these individuals their response normally resembles something like this: “Well, we are in church and no one here would ever steal anything from me”. Really??? The problem with this thought process is that it is not logical. Most of the referenced people have never experienced anything stolen from them; therefore, they assume their safety simply based on their location.

Criminals know that many church goers tend to think this same way. They look at churches as “easy targets”. If you want to save a seat they use your jacket or a piece of paper with your name on it. If you are a church leader or administrator you should consider regular reminders to your congregation about not leaving their valuables unattended around your church building.

I have directly experienced this form of theft in the past. Several years back my brother got married. Prior to the wedding all of the bride’s maids congregated in a room to add their final touches to their wedding attire. Each lady decided to leave her belonging, which included their purses, in the same room during the ceremony. After the wedding had concluded and the bride’s maids returned to collect their belongings, each girl was terrified when they discovered that all their money and credit cards had been removed from their purses. From their prospective all of their belongings were safe and secure. The bride’s maid figured that they would be the last ones into the sanctuary and the first ones out. Who would have a chance to get to their stuff? The part that they left out was the variable of the criminal. The criminal knew that they would be standing up in front of the auditorium for an extended period of time. They also knew that people normally don’t walk into a wedding ceremony late and they normally don’t walk out of the ceremony before it is over. The perpetrator had a direct window of opportunity to commit their crime!

I tell you this story to help you think of the possibilities that exist. Think about what you do with your belongings. Think about how you can encourage your congregations to safe guard their items at all times.

Friday, November 20

Friday Humor!

Received this interesting story on Facebook today from a blog reader and through it was worth passing it on.

“Reminds me of a sad but humorous story at our church. A drunken individual staggered into the building one morning. He was knocking things over and making a big mess. He relieved his bladder and then found his way to the kitchen and opened up the fridge. His attention was captivated by the ice cream in the freezer. He stumbled looking for a spoon; however, could only locate a fork instead. Knowing that a fork would still do the trick, he stabbed the fork into the ice cream with snickered glee. He then jammed the frozen joy into the roof of his mouth. In shock and horror he coughed out all the ice cream along with his false teeth, then collapsed to the floor in placate his pain. At that moment Vic walked in and was shocked to see an unknown man lying on the floor next to a pool of melted ice cream. In side the pool of ice cream was a fork implanted into a set of dentures.”

Some times break in can end in humor. This one would qualify for America’s dumbest criminals…”

Thanks Bonnie and India!!

Thursday, November 19

God’s Sovereignty in Security

What is God’s Sovereignty and how does it apply to our outlook on church security?

God’s sovereignty can be summarized as possessing ultimate power and authority, establishing that God is in complete control of all things and can accomplish whatever he pleases.

If you agree with the above statement and also believe that God works all things according to the counsel of his will (as noted in Ephesians 1:11) and that his knowledge of all things past, present, and future is flawless, then why bother investing in security concerns at your church. If God knows it’s going to happen and has the ability to protect us from it then what’s the point?

Although this thought process is true and the statements made about God are correct you may have left out an important piece of the puzzle! The part that is missing is that God uses his children to accomplish the purposes of his will. In God's awesome power and sovereignty he doesn't necessarily need us, but still uses us in His kindness. God has given people like you and me the skills to protect his church. He can use you to accomplish his will. As sinners we do not have the same supremacy as God. Therefore, we cannot know in advance what God’s will is for us. We have to respond by taking appropriate action to thwart evil in an effort to continue to advance the gospel.

I like to use an analogy when talking about this subject. Every time I get into a car I put on my seatbelt. I do not do this because I do not trust in God to protect me. I do it because I know that car accidents occur and that God gave man the wisdom to invent seatbelts and airbags. I believe that God can supernaturally intervene and prevent a drunk driver from running into me. I also know that God may have another plan and may allow the accident to occur. In the event that occurs then God may decide to continue to use the invention of man (Seatbelts and airbags) to protect me. Regardless of the outcome God was sovereign in the details. God is not only sovereign in the details BUT he is also GOOD! Knowing God is sovereign is not enough sometimes. If God was only sovereign but not good, we would be in trouble. His goodness coupled with sovereignty reveals more about His kindness towards sinners. So yes, God is not only sovereign in the details, whatever the outcome (walking away with a scratch, or being paralyzed or even dead) God is working His gospel purposes out in my life and for my ultimate GOOD. So if I have a scratch- it is for my GOOD. If am paralyzed it is for my GOOD. Wisdom states that one should act intelligently and use the knowledge and tools that the Lord has provided.

Mississippi Pastor Stabbed to Death

This is the second occurrence that I have seen this month involving a pastor being murdered at his home. It is an important reminder to not just think about safety and security at your workplace.

How are you protecting yourself and loved ones at home?

Wednesday, November 18

Security & Nevada Baptist Convention

Nevada Baptist Convention Picks Church Security as Topic for Convention Breakout Session.

Should other groups follow their lead?

Shots Fired! (Salisbury, NC)

Church bus caught in crossfire Salisbury, NC - Salisbury Post
"Riders hit the floor as a loaded church bus got caught in the crossfire during a gun battle Sunday afternoon"

Only a few days after I posted about safety concerns regarding 15-Passenger Vans the above article is released. This article defines being in the wrong place at the wrong time. There are a few things that we can learn from this experience. Many churches offer transportation services to members of their congregations that do not have their own transportation. We cannot place everyone in this category; however, I think it is safe to say that a large number of people who don’t have cars “may” live in lower income area’s that “could” have a higher crime rate. I say this as a reminder that churches should be extra vigilant when providing services in this area. Work with your local police department to identify high crime areas near your church. There may be alternate routes that you can take to avoid trouble spots similar to the one illustrated is Salisbury, NC.

Tuesday, November 17

Theft and Fire - Midway Bible Baptist Church

Click Link for: Arson Fire Story

The linked article tells a story about a church that experienced another tragedy related to a fire. Friday night the church was set ablaze by a “drifter” or “passerby” as the article describes. The individual stole $250 worth of music equipment prior to setting the church on fire. He was not a member of the church, nor did he live in the town that the church was located. This individual was just passing by and saw the church as an easy target. Is your church viewed as an easy target?

According to the United States Fire Administration:
The leading cause of church fires is arson (25%)

What can your church do to protect themselves from an arsonist getting into your facility?

Do you have an Alarm System?
Do you have surveillance cameras?
Does your building lock properly?

Monday, November 16

How to use a Fire Extinguisher

This video was created by the Fire Equipment Manufacturers' Association to train viewers to learn how to assess a potential fire situation and use a portable fire extinguisher in the event of a fire emergency.
For more information about the Fire Equipment Manufacturers' Association, visit

Sunday, November 15

(Updated) Fire Destroys Church

Does your church have smoke alarms and a sprinkler system?

Fire destroys Clayton County church  |
Click Above Link: Posted using ShareThis

The below link has information provided by Clayton County Fire Department. This is the fire department that responded to the above mentioned fire that occurred this morning. I have been a fire fighter since high school and this is the first time I have ever seen a fire department who has information on their website directly related to fires at churches. I am not sure if Calvary Baptist Church in Morrow, GA had even received any of this information; however, it is a warning to all of us to take fire safety seriously.

UPDATE: 11/18/2009
"Investigators descovered traces of an accelerant that had been used," said Glenn Allen, spokesperson for Georgia Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner John Oxendine, whose arson investigators are coordinating the investigation. "We're looking for the public's help."

According to the United States Fire Administration:

~An average of 1,300 church fires are reported each year, causing $38 million in property loss.

~ The leading cause of church fires is arson (25%).

~ 30% of church fires are the result of mechanical failures. Faulty wiring and improperly functioning heating systems are often at fault, perhaps because they are in older structures and have not been brought up to local fire codes.

~ Of churches that reported fires, 65% had no smoke alarms and 96% had no sprinkler system.

That's me (yellow trim) putting out a fire in a 15 passenger van

Saturday, November 14


Question: “Brian, very thought provoking post. Do you believe that churches, schools, hospitals and the like should also educate their "customers" to make them force multipliers? I would be interested to hear if you think that is a good idea from a law enforcement perspective and if so, maybe some tips on how to effectively do so.” - Jenni Hesterman

Force multiplication refers to a combination of attributes which give a particular force or group an added advantage. Well-trained employees and volunteers should definitely be considered a security force multiplier. By training those who work for you and your organization you are increasing the eyes and ears of your team. I have a good example of this from a former job of mine. I use to work for a large department store. I was the security manager and was primarily responsible for investigating shop lifting. The company policy was for me to give a five minute speech at the beginning of every shift to all the employees about the importance of looking for shoplifters. If a store sales clerk notified the security department of a possible concern then that clerk would be given a cash award if they were correct and an arrest (from the security department) for shoplifting was made. This policy multiplied the security force by enlisting the aid of all store employees.

The interesting part of the question posted refers to the word “customers”. I think that there is a level of appropriateness in educating all your customers. For churches "customers" would refer to the congregational members of your religious institution. If the members of your church are helping to look after the church from a security prospective then you are only improving the benefit to your congregation. Have them report suspicious activity to your security director, pastor, minister, priest or church administration. This same principle could apply to school, hospitals, and other organizations as well.

Friday, November 13

2 dead, 14 hurt in Oregon Church Van Rollover

Click Link to See article:

Driving a large van is not like driving your everyday car. Does your church own a 12-15 passenger van (or something larger)? If so then what kind of training do you have in place to allow others to drive it? The common response that I hear from churches is, “none”!

According to a report from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration posted by South Eastern Oklahoma State University the below facts apply to oversized vans:

~ 15-passenger vans have a increased rollover risk under certain conditions

~ The risk of rollover increases dramatically as the number of occupant’s increases from fewer than five occupants to over ten passengers.

~ 15-passenger vans (with 10 or more occupants) had a rollover rate in single vehicle crashes that is nearly 3 x the rate of those that were lightly loaded.

~ Loading 15-passenger vans causes the center of gravity to shift rearward and upward increasing the likelihood of rollover. Shift in the center of gravity will also increase the potential for loss of control in panic maneuvers.

~ It is important that the van be operated by experienced drivers, they should understand and be familiar with the handling characteristics of their vans, especially when fully loaded.

~ Institutions using 15-passenger vans should require seat belt use at all times.

~ Any load placed on the roof will be above the center of gravity of the vehicle and will increase the likelihood of rolling over.

Thursday, November 12

What’s the Risk

If the church does not understand its current risk and points of vulnerability, then it can not act appropriately to avoid that risk. Risk does not disappear because no one considers or acknowledges it. If risk is present then one must decided to put it into one of the five below categories.

You can eliminate it
You can reduce it
You can share it
You can transfer it
You can accept it

These principles of risk management are explained and illustrated in relationship to church safety and security. By developing an understanding of risk, one can make informed decisions on how to move forward with the vulnerabilities that they face.

Wednesday, November 11

Importance Notice:

I am on Vacation through Sunday. I will do my best to post as often as possible…

Photo by: Brian Gallagher
April, 2009

Mexico City, Mexico
Metropolitan Cathedral

Tuesday, November 10

Security Alarm System

"9 out of 10 Convicted Burglars Agreed That They Would Avoid A House or Business Protected By An Alarm System"
U.S. Department of Justice, 1999

Does your church have a security alarm system?

Monday, November 9

Find Sex Offenders Near Me

My wife informed me of an excellent website for tracking sexually oriented crimes in your local neighborhood or community. The site is called “Family Watchdog”.

Among other things, this website allows you to enter in an address and it displays a map linking all the crimes in the area related to offenses against children, rape, sexual battery, and other sexual related convictions. The website also allows you to get email updates when this information changes.

This is just another tool to aid you in your research and evaluation of the criminal activity near your church or religious institution.

Sunday, November 8

Carbon Monoxide, The Silent Killer

Up to 13 treated for carbon monoxide poisoning at church in Riverdale, MD

Carbon monoxide is known as the silent killer. You can not smell, taste or see that it is there. Carbon monoxide (CO) is generated as an off gas from items such as boilers, gas heaters, gas stoves, and gas fireplaces. When the carbon atoms in these gas products do not oxidize properly the reaction forms carbon monoxide instead of a much safer gas known as carbon dioxide. Carbon monoxide binds to the hemoglobin in your blood preventing oxygen in the air from binding to the same hemoglobin. This causes a lack of oxygen to the body and will result in death if not removed from the environment. If carbon monoxide is being produced than something is wrong. Your gas boilers or gas heaters is not working properly. So how will you know this is happening?

Most people are familiar with smoke alarms. Well there is also a similar alarm called a carbon monoxide detector. Technology has advance to where you can even purchase a combined alarm that detects both. Your church should have carbon monoxide detectors any time that there is a chance of producing carbon monoxide. Some examples or locations to start are near mechanical spaces, kitchens and basements. Carbon monoxide does not stay in one place. Don’t limit your protection to only where you think the source could come from. Have carbon monoxide detectors spread out all around your facility.

Average Price: $10 - $30

Friday, November 6

Heart Felt Prayers

The last 24 hours have been tragic for many families across the United States! My heart felt prayers go out to the families who have lost loved ones in the attack at Fort Hood, TX and now today at the Gateway Center in Orlando, FL.

Let this be a reminder to all of us to stay vigilant in our everyday activities.

Thursday, November 5

Man Caught by Receptionist Stealing from Church

View Story by clicking link below:

The above article illustrates a major security concerns at local churches across the county. When someone walks into your church who is the first person that they will be greeted by? Is it a receptionist sitting “downstairs”, as this article suggests, or does your church even have a receptionist?

Both scenarios cause problems! If your church does not have a receptionist, facility worker, security guard, or other such position to monitor individuals coming in and out of the building than the GATES (doors) of the church are open for anyone to enter. Your house of worship is no longer as secure and safe as it should be.

On the contrary, you also do not want to stick a receptionist by herself at a location that may potentially be dangerous. If your church is set up in a way that the receptionist is alone than be intentional on how you can protect him or her. Here are some examples. You can put a video camera at the reception area and have the feed go to the pastors office or to another location where is can be monitored as a back up. You can have a panic button wired to the front desk so if an intruder did enter the church than the receptionist can notify another person for help. You can put a locking device on the front door that requires the lock to be release by the push of a button in order for someone to enter through the door. These are just a few examples of ways to increase security in this area of your church.

Wednesday, November 4

Should Sex Offenders Be Barred from Church?

Should Sex Offenders Be Barred from Church?

I came across the above article tonight from TIME. It shows the prospective of a recovering sex offender who is now restricted from churches with child care due to a new law that was passed in North Carolina.

States all across America are moving towards making their laws stricter in relation to sex offenders. As a church leader or member you should be familiar with what your states current laws are regarding the subject.

Background Check Resources

LifeWay Christian Stores is advertising that if you register through then you will save up to 28% on background checks from

“ reported that about 450 churches have requested more than 5,000 background checks on volunteers and prospective employees since LifeWay began offering the service in 2008. Most of those searches returned clean records or minor traffic-related offenses, but 80 screenings uncovered serious felony offenses, and more than 600 people had some type of criminal history that may have disqualified them from volunteering or working at a church.” (Written by Brooklyn Noel Lowery,


Tuesday, November 3

National Sex Offender Website

Multiple stories were released today about a man from Fort Collins, Colorado who was charged yesterday with 11 felony counts to include sexual assaults on a child, criminal attempts to commit sexual exploitation of children and assault on a child by one in a position of trust with a pattern of abuse.

The man accused was employed by a church in the City of Longmont, CO. The prosecution is stating that the man used his position at the church to meet and entice boys into sexual relationships.

This topic has been all too common across America. The Catholic Church has received the most press coverage in relationship to sexual abuse related to priests. Unfortunately, this disease spreads far beyond one specific demonination. Many sexual predators are repeat offenders. They may fit perfectly into society and your local church; however, the sin that dwells within their heart is waiting to escape. I highly encourage your church to take this topic seriously. All church staff members or volunteers that work with children under the age 18 should be run though some type of security check by your church administration.

There are multiple levels of security checks available. These can range from a free national registry to purchasing a comprehensive background check. It is my recommendation that you start with simply running their information through a national database of known convicted sexual offenders. The Department of Justice has a National Sex Offenders Public Website (linked below). Many states have similar website that may also be helpful. In future posts I will give you more information on how to take this issue to the next step. Many organizations have been formed to specifically help churches with doing background checks.

Department of Justice – National Sex Offender Website

Link to One News Report of Charged Church Worker:

Monday, November 2

Michigan Minister Attacked at Home

Associated Press - November 1, 2009 4:34 PM ET

A Michigan minister who was stabbed in the neck, arms and chest by a burglar returned to the pulpit after weeks of recovery…Ramsby was attacked in his home by an intruder Aug. 4. Ramsby's family was out of town at the time and he was critically injured. He credited God with saving his life.

Read full story: 

What can we learn from the above story? According to police this attack seemed to be a random act of violence. Although Ramsby was not targeted specifically for his role as a minister, it is important to take your occupation into account when planning for the security of your personal life. Do you lock your doors at your house both when you are home, as well as, when you are away?

My wife is from a small town in Southwestern VA. She grew up never locking the exterior doors of her house. When we first got married this was a transition for her to remember as I insisted that the doors remained locked. Similar to my wife, some of you may be from smaller towns. If you lived in the city the idea of locking a door would be second nature; however, in a smaller town this is not always something that you consider. I don’t know if Ramsby had locked his door the night of his attack; however, my advice to you is that this would be the first step in protecting against a home intrusion. I also highly recommend investing in an alarm system for your house.

Sunday, November 1

Killed at Church Halloween Event

An 8-year-old boy apparently spending Halloween at a church event designed for safety was struck and killed by an SUV Saturday night, Clermont police said.

Boy, 8, killed near church Halloween event in Clermont --
Posted using ShareThis

What is your church doing for special events? Many churches plan for traffic control during their Sunday service; however, forget about other events throughout the week. Does your church have a traffic control team or parking crew? Do you work with the local police department to help organize traffic flow for large events?

Many states will allow you to hire off duty police officers or crossing guards to assist with special events. If your event is at night this may be even more important due to the reduced levels of light and visibility. The extra cost occurred is well worth both the legal and financial liability.

Saturday, October 31

Church Security and the Bible

Church security has been in existence since biblical times. One of the clearest illustrations takes place in the Old Testament in the Book of Nehemiah. When the city of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians, Nehemiah, a profit from the Lord, said:

“From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. And the leaders stood behind the whole house of Judah, who were building on the wall. Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other… So we labored at the work, and half of them held the spears from the break of dawn until the stars came out. I also said to the people at that time, ‘Let every man and his servant pass the night within Jerusalem, that they may be a guard for us by night and may labor by day.’ So neither I nor my brothers nor my servants nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us took off our clothes; each kept his weapon at his right hand.” (Nehemiah 4:16-17, 21-23 ESV)

It was apparent that the Lord had a mission for Nehemiah to complete. Nehemiah was prepared and established a plan to protect his people while they were doing the Lord’s work. The ESV Study Bible points out that “though Nehemiah and the people prayed and trusted God for protection, they also kept their weapons close at hand, ready to defend themselves from attack; God often accomplishes his purposes through ordinary human means”.

The title of this blog is The Gate Keeper. After reading this passage from Nehemiah you can see where I got the name from. In biblical times large magnificent walls protected both the temple and the people within Jerusalem. The gate was the passageway to allow entry into and out of the city. The walls kept away enemies and provided comfort to those it protected. Similarly, in present days when you establish a zone of protection at your church, synagogue, or religious institution you are establishing yourself as the Gate Keeper for our local congregations.

Photo By: Brian J Gallagher
Gate in Dublin, Ireland

Friday, October 30

Information on Church Crimes and Violence Statistics

I am amazed at how much media coverage this topic has been receiving lately. The Washington Post has run several articles in relation to the topic of Church Security in the last few months. Their latest was released today. You can read it below. The Article references Carl Chinn formally from Focus on the Family. Carl has tracked church shooting since his attack at Focus on the Family in 1996. His website is the best that I have found if you are looking for something that shows statistical information on church crimes and violence statistics.

Sense of Sanctuary Lost As Church Attacks Spike
By William Wan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The youth choir belted out "O Happy Day" as folks trickled in through the church doors. Few noticed the accountant sitting in the back pew, his eyes flickering over each latecomer.

In one hand, he held a Bible. In the other, tucked inside his coat pocket, he gripped a .38 caliber revolver.

He had come to People's Community Baptist Church in Silver Spring looking for his estranged wife. And once she arrived and began arguing with him outside, the Bible would be forgotten. The gun would be raised. And in a matter of seconds, the congregation's sense of sanctuary would be shattered...

...Although no federal agency or law enforcement group keeps track of killings at houses of worship, some people recording cases on their own believe that there has been a disturbing uptick in recent years.

One of those keeping count is Carl Chinn, who started compiling a database of such attacks shortly after a gunman burst into the Christian organization Focus on the Family where he was working in 1996 and took hostages. Eleven years later, Chinn was working security for the New Life Church in Colorado when another gunman appeared and killed two people.

By Chinn's count, fatal attacks at houses of worship have grown from a handful a decade ago to at least 32 last year -- a number that includes people killed inside the buildings as well as homicides that take place on church steps and in parking lots. But he acknowledges that it's become easier to track police reports and news stories online in recent years, which could partly account for the perceived increase...

You can view the rest of this artice at:


One thing that I want to regularly do is post current news articles on church related safety and security issues. It would be great if my readers would post their comments on the articles. What is something that your church can do to protect against what just happened? I will also post my thoughts on the current topic. These posts will be titled "Reflections". They may be a reflection on the most current topic posted or on one from the past week.

One other thing that you will regularly see is pictures of churches. I love to take pictures of churches when I travel. Every church is different. Every church brings different challenges to safety and security. Please enjoy these photo’s as they are periodically posted for your enjoyment.

This is a Church in a small village outside of Budapest, Hungry
Photo By: Brian Gallagher, 2006

Elma woman gets 90 days in church burglary

• Published October 29, 2009

An Elma woman was sentenced Monday to 90 days in jail for her role in a church burglary, according to The Daily World of Aberdeen.

Tara L. Geelan, 20, admitted stealing music equipment from Lake Quinault Valley Chapel in August. Pastor Gery West said the church had offered drug-treatment support and a discipleship program to Geelan and would like to do the same again.

Geelan apologized for helping Jeremy A. Sorrell, 20, steal from a church revival tent after members offered to give them gas money for pursuing drug treatment Aug. 24.

Sorrell faced additional charges connected to other residential burglaries, as well as the theft of a woman’s purse in Olympia.

A judge sentenced Sorrell to nearly 21/2 years in prison on two counts of burglary, trafficking stolen property and other charges.

The couple took the items to Olympia and sold them at a pawnshop, court records state.

The Olympian, news services

Thursday, October 29

New Jersey Priest Murdered by Janitor


Thursday, October 29th 2009, 3:39 PM

The church janitor accused of brutally killing a New Jersey priest is staying behind bars.

Jose Feliciano, 64, was ordered held on $1 million cash bond Thursday at a court appearance where prosecutors revealed the suspect's past included using phony names and Social Security numbers.

Feliciano, who worked at St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church in Chatham, was also wanted on a 1988 bench warrant issued in Philadelphia, prosecutors said.

He's charged with murdering the Rev. Ed Hinds inside the church rectory last week, stabbing the beloved priest 32 times.

Court officers held the shaky Feliciano by his belt until he could take a seat in the Morristown, N.J., courtroom for the bail hearing.

The murder suspect, wearing a khaki-colored jump suit, nodded uncertainly when asked he if understood the charges.

Feliciano is accused of first-degree murder, two counts of weapons possession and one count of trying to destroy evidence.

Prosecutors said he tried to cover up the heinous slaying, ditching the murder weapon and the slain priest's cell phone.

Feliciano also had blood in the cuticles of his fingers, and authorities recovered other physical evidence in the case, prosecutors said.

According to court documents, Hinds discussed firing Feliciano one day before the killing.

Photo By: Sciarrino/The Star-Ledger

Description: Jose Feliciano, left, the suspect in the brutal
slaying of a New Jersey priest, is lead into
Superior Court in Morristown, N.J. for a bail hearing.

Wednesday, October 28

Introduction to Blog

My goal for this blog is to post on topics to help you and your church think about safety and security at your facility.

Before we get started here is a little background:

The Lord has directed me into different roles that have helped prepare me for this topic. I began working with the local fire department my senior year of high school. My involvement has continued at different levels for over a decade continuing to give me training in fire protection and emergency medical service. These skills have allowed me to serve with the medical team at my church, as well as, to serve and lead medical and security teams at many national conferences. Some of these conferences include Sovereign Grace Conference, New Attitude, NEXT, and Together for the Gospel.

In 2004 the Lord redirected me into a full time role with the Federal Government working in a law enforcement capacity. I was privileged to get hired by one of the leading agencies in both physical security and personal protection. I have been blessed to train at some of the most cutting edge facilities and with some of the worlds leading instructors. The Lord has challenged me with the opportunities to be able to protect multiple world leaders over the years. From the start of my career God has made it clear to me that the main reason that he is allowing me to have these opportunities is for his benefit and glory. I have learned everything I can in security to serve the Lord by helping you protect God’s people.

I hope that you will find this blog helpful. Sometimes I will be able to post more frequently than other times, due to a heavy travel schedules. Please leave your comments. We can learn from the experience you have had at your local church or religious institution.

Mykhailivskyy Cathedral
2009 Kiev, Ukraine
Photo by: Brian J Gallagher