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