176 violent outbursts in Memphis churches in 2014 - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

176 violent outbursts in Memphis churches in 2014

A church service in Memphis (Source: WMC Action News 5) A church service in Memphis (Source: WMC Action News 5)

Some churches in the Mid-South are considering new ways to keep their congregation safe, after a fatal shooting in a Charleston, South Carolina church.

Pastor Keith Norman, First Baptist Broad, says what makes places of worship so vulnerable is not just the weapons a person may carry in, but also the mental battles they can bring. 

“Not knowing what they bring with them as far as their emotional wellness is concerned," he said. 

Norman along with other local church leaders like Reverend Kenneth Robinson of St. Andrew AME Church spoke about the importance of church security.

"We must be watchful; we must be vigilant," Robinson said."I'm going to caution my congregation to watch as well as pray," Norman said. 

Last year, Memphis police saw 176 incidents of significant violence in houses of worship.

Sometimes violence happens just outside the pews. In 2014, a 15-year-old boy was shot while playing basketball outside of Peter's Rock Missionary Baptist Church.

Memphis has also seen several cases of churches being vandalized.

Thursday, church leaders at St. Matthew Missionary Baptist Church discovered a bullet hole in one of the building's doors. 

"I'm going to be talking to my staff about the right things to do to make sure people are protected," Norman said. 

Now, many leaders are not only talking to their staff, but also considering updated security systems and personnel to keep their congregation safe. 

"Multiple levels of protection and preparation and prevention are appropriate," Robinson said. 

We reached out to Shelby County to find out how many incidents of violence may have taken place inside of placed of worship, but we were told the County does not track specific cases of violence inside of churches.

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