East Carolina Church Leaders Talk Safety Following Mass Shootings

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GREENVILLE, NC (WITN) – Following two mass shootings over the weekend, some church leaders in East Carolina are stepping up security to protect their congregations.

The Greenville Christian Community Church has security cameras and deacons at every door during church services.

Urban Turnage, the church’s facility manager, says these are some of the many strategies they can use to keep their congregation safe.

Turnage believes safety is more important than ever after two mass shootings over the weekend.

On Saturday, authorities said an 18-year-old traveled to Buffalo, New York, and shot and killed ten people in a crime authorities say was racially motivated. A man opened fire on a Southern California church on Sunday, killing one person and injuring several others.

“A lot has changed in the last 15 to 20 years regarding church shootings and church safety,” Turnage said.

Some changes include security cameras and the presence of a sheriff’s deputy on the property during church services.

Just down the road, Bp. James Tripp says his congregation at Holly Hill Free Will Baptist Church is also making changes to his safety.

“We have a meeting next Thursday and we will discuss our security plans,” Tripp said.

Tripp says he will let his congregation know what changes will take place after the closed meeting.

Following the weekend’s tragic events, Janeé Harris, an associate professor at Eastern Carolina University, isn’t surprised people are taking more precautions.

“Faith communities and grocery stores are places that we assume are safe spaces,” Harris said. “And remembering that they are not could cause anxiety and grief.”

Harris suggests people dealing with grief or anxiety seek formal services such as a counselor to deal with anxiety related to current events and limit social media exposure to violent acts.

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