Los Angeles Churches Reevaluate Safety Protocols in Wake of Lakewood Church Tragedy

Elgin Nelson
The fatal shooting at Lakewood Church, Joel Osteen’s megachurch in Los Angeles, has prompted churches to reassess their safety protocols and enhance security measures. Genesse Ivonne Moreno, a 36-year-old individual unrelated to Osteen’s congregation, initiated gunfire within the church, leading to a tragic incident where off-duty officers engaged in a gun battle with Moreno, resulting in her death. During the exchange, Moreno’s 7-year-old son suffered a critical gunshot wound to the head.

The incident underscores the increasing threat of church shootings in the United States, with past tragedies such as the Sutherland Springs church shooting and the Charleston church massacre highlighting the vulnerability of religious communities. A survey by Lifeway Research revealed that 62% of pastors have intentional plans for active shooters.

In response to the Houston shooting, Pastor Xavier Thompson of Southern Missionary Baptist Church emphasizes the need for faith-based leaders to be vigilant not only spiritually but also in terms of security and surveillance. He urges pastors to take necessary steps to protect their congregations, saying, “These are the days that require the faith-based community to be sober and vigilant. Not just spiritually, but in the arena of security and surveillance.” Thompson adds, “I think it behooves every leader to take the necessary steps to protect our sheep, that’s what we are called to do as shepherds.”

Pastor Kerry Robinson, the Pastor of New Life in Christ Church in Houston and CEO of On10 Security Ministries LLC, further emphasizes the vulnerability of churches due to their open and welcoming nature. Robinson acknowledges that while churches serve as sanctuaries, they are also potential targets, especially when security measures are lax. He stresses the necessity of increasing trained security to protect the worshippers within the church, citing the importance of continuous training, vigilance, and readiness to respond to threats. Robinson states, “The key to preventing danger from taking place (like at the Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas) is to continue to train a designated staff on security tactics, stay vigilant, and always be ready to stop the threat when that time comes. The truth is, the presence of a threat will happen; not IF, but WHEN.”

Pastor K.W. Tulloss, President of Baptist Minister’s Conference LA, echoes the sentiment, highlighting the high alert status of churches in Los Angeles following a shooting in Orange County in May 2022. The incident led to a safety seminar and discussions among pastors about introducing armed security to prevent similar tragedies.

In conclusion, the recent events at Lakewood Church have prompted a nationwide reevaluation of security measures within religious institutions. Pastors and faith-based leaders are emphasizing the critical need for increased security, training, and vigilance to protect worshippers from potential threats

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