New Life Church Pastor Brady Boyd speaks out on church security preparedness
By Chad D.Baus
One place where leaders made a conscious choice not to wait until their kids die was New Life Church in Colorado Springs, CO.
The story of concealed handgun license-holder and New Life Church member Jeanne Assam's brave actions to stop a murderous rampage killer when he stormed onto the church campus on that December Sunday morning won't soon be forgotten.
The national syndicated radio station KLOVE has posted an interview with New Life Senior Pastor Brady Boyd on the station's website.
The first part of the interview is about a meeting between one of the victims' parents and the attackers' parents (which is a powerful story in and of itself), but beginning at about 5:31 on the counter and for the next 3 minutes, Boyd gets into a discussion over how churches need to recognize that they are targets of violence in this day and age, and about how (thankfully) his church had prepared in advance for such a day.
"Certainly I don't think churches should overreact to the events at New Life Church on December 9," Boyd told KLOVE. "But I do believe that churches should be wise as serpents and gentle as doves. And the wise as serpents part means we should expect the worst but pray for the best. And we should be prepared for every contingency, every scenario that could possibly happen in our churches."
"One of the things that New Life had done well before I ever came here as senior pastor," Boyd continued, "is that they had over the last three or four years developed a real comprehensive contingency plan for just about every emergency that could've happened inside the building....fire, medical emergency, shooting, hostage situation, electrical outages."
"So when the shooter came on our property our security team had already done drills. We had actually at one time before practiced evacuating. We have 10,000 people on our campus on a weekend. So that's a small city that we had to evacuate."
Not every church of course has those kind of logistics to deal with," Boyd observes, "but even a church of 100 or 200 should have some type of plan in place should someone come onto their property. Because churches of all sizes are targets today of our culture. Unfortunately, we do live in a society where people sometimes take out their rage or anger against organized religious sinners - including churches, synagogues, mosques, wherever."
To those who would argue that there is some sort of religious prohibition to such planning, Boyd said that "in a Christian church I don't think it's a problem at all to be prepared. Jesus himself said for his disciples to have a couple of swords around. I don't think Jesus or scripture prevents us from protecting ourselves. Certainly we are to love and care and be the absolute center of compassion. However, there is nothing in scripture that tells me that I can't protect myself from harm and can't protect my family."
Boyd's advice to other churches is this: "I do believe that churches should be circumspect and wise, and not just assume that it won't happen to them. Because when I woke up on Dec. 9, I had no indication that our church would be attacked. I never thought that it would ever be attacked. But it did."
Thanks to Ohio law, CHL-holders are banned from attending worship services (or even entering the building) while armed, unless they have received special permission from church/synagogue/mosque officials. In other words, it takes a conscious act on the part of church leaders to come to terms with the threat, as New Life Church did a few years ago, and to take the necessary steps to lift the state-imposed ban on self-defense in places of worship.
Up to now, feedback from across the state indicates few churches have made the realization that New Life Church leaders did. Instead, the decision-makers in many Ohio places of worship leaders seem to continue to labor under the false impression that an accident by an armed citizen is more likely than a violent attack by a crazed madman. Or perhaps even worse, they are willing to gamble the lives of their congregants against the inconveniences associated with making the "real comprehensive contingency plan" that Pastor Boyd correctly advises needs to be made.
If you have asked for permission at your place of worship in the past, and have been turned away, or if you haven't yet asked, now is clearly the time. The events of the past weeks, months and several years prove that the threat is credible. And according to Pastor Boyd, at least some churches are finally beginning to recognize this fact.
"We've gotten a number of calls from churches wanting to know if they could come and take a look at our security team and the manual that we put together. So I think there will be an opportunity in the days ahead for us to share our experiences. Even in the shooting we've learned that some of the policies and procedures we had in place need to be upgraded and improved upon. So it's going to give us a chance to evaluate if what we're doing is right."
Pastor Boyd's final analysis?
"More things went right than went wrong, for sure, in the shooting."
The same cannot be said for all the multiple-victim public shootings that have occurred in places where guns are banned, and where those responsible for security continued to operate under an attitude of denial that anything will happen to them.
Chad Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman and Northwest Ohio Chair.