Historically, churches have held an “open door” policy, consistent with the Christian mission to make disciples of all nations and to welcome all into the house of God.
Due to the recent shooting, some church leaders now believe the Church needs stricter security measures in place to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.
After the Charleson shooting, church leaders from the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) drafted a document titled “12 Considerations for Congregational Security.” According to Christian Today, the document advised creating a security plan and team, coordinating with local law enforcement, and securing the church’s entrance and exits.
Although some church leaders see the need for stricter security in order to protect their members, some believe this goes against what the Church should stand for.
“To change the open-door policy would be to change the Gospel,” said Rev. Dr. William Barber II, pastor at Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, North Carolina and president of the North Carolina NAACP. “That is not the way the black church has responded historically.”
AME Bishop Gregory Ingram from Philadelphia agreed. “There has to be a distinction between the church and an armed garrison.If every church had barbed wires and guards around it, it ceases from being a church. It becomes almost like a microcosm of all of things wrong in society, not a place with open arms.”
Church leaders are still discussing the best methods to keep their congregations safe.