Workshop offers clergy ways to protect their congregation during worship

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

A man is killed and five people are wounded during a May 15 shooting at a Taiwanese-American church in California

It became the latest incident of violence in a place of worship in the nation.

In 2012 a mass shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis. left six people dead and others wounded.

Perhaps the most well-known church tragedy in recent times was in 2015 when a white gunman opened fire during Bible study at historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, killing nine African Americans including the senior pastor.

Although the timing of an upcoming church security workshop is coincidental with the California shooting, houses of worship aren’t immune, and are sometimes the target, of violence.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office will offer training for faith-based leaders and security staff at churches, mosques, synagogues, and other places of worship on 1:30 p.m. June 7 at Unionville Missionary Baptist Church, 3820 Houston Ave., in Macon. The workshops will cover security, emergency action plan preparedness, hate crimes and the growth and management of threats.

There will also be workshops in Columbus and Valdosta in July. Those times and locations are pending.

“Learning how to prevent and respond to threats is, sadly, a necessity in today’s world,” U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary said in a press release about the event. “Preserving the inherently welcoming and peaceful environment that people expect at their places of worship is essential to the overall safety and well-being of the community.”

To register for the events or to get information about hosting a workshop, email Pam Lightsey, law enforcement coordinator with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, at