Pastors, parishioners learn gun techniques to keep churches secu - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Pastors, parishioners learn gun techniques to keep churches secure

In the wake of the deadly mass shooting Nov. 5 in a small Texas church, pastors and congregation members are training to become efficient security guards for their churches. (Source: CNN) In the wake of the deadly mass shooting Nov. 5 in a small Texas church, pastors and congregation members are training to become efficient security guards for their churches. (Source: CNN)

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX (KABB/KSAT/CNN) - Pastor Brian Ulch is a gatekeeper, a volunteer trained, licensed and insured to protect his church by the Christian Security Institute.

“We have a responsibility to every single member that walks into a safe haven, that walks into a place of worship, and wanting a place of peace, to provide the protection,” Ulch said.

Will Chadwick and his father, Chuck, created the Gatekeeper Program more than a decade ago just outside of Dallas. Chuck Chadwick said back then, business wasn’t flourishing.

“It was so hard in those early years to even get somebody to spend $20 on a subscription to our website,” he said. “Now, we have thousands and thousands of churches that are part of our national organization."

And in the last week, following the deadliest shooting in a house of worship in US history, the Chadwicks’ phone has been ringing off the hook. From New York to Hawaii, churches call, wanting to learn how to protect themselves.

“We take people that have absolutely no experience and we pride ourselves on really being able to really hone these skills,” Chuck Chadwick said.

In a six-day course, volunteers are taught defensive tactics modeled on professional security and law enforcement standards, but tailored to challenges a church ministry could face, like how to interact with an unruly parishioner and how to use a gun against an active shooter.

“Being able to place your mind in there and see how you’re going to react is important,” Will Chadwick said.

Pastors are given psychological evaluations and undergo background checks, too. Pastor Ulch, like many other gatekeepers, didn’t have any prior security training. Seven years ago his church in Denison, TX, discussed hiring a private security company, but they needed more.

“When you look at the outside private security sector, they have dynamic resources, but they don’t know your congregation,” Ulch said. “They don’t know the heartbeat of your ministry. But when you look at bringing your volunteers through, they not only know your campus, know your community, know your members. They can identify things that don’t look right.”

Ulch said like most people, the shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs left him shaken.

“Once I really absorbed it, I was going, ‘I sure wish they had a Gatekeeper.’”

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