LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – About 130 people showed up for a seminar on church safety hosted by calvary Baptist church in Nacogdoches today. speakers had a tough to hear, but realistic message that church isn't safe just because its a church.
The message wasn't an easy one to hear.
"Wake up. You can't assume that it won't happen on church property. It's not sacred to criminals," said Jimmy Meeks, City of Hurst Police Officer & Pastor.
Police officer and Pastor Jimmy Meeks began these church safety seminars almost a year ago - now he's spreading the word where ever he's needed.
"We have to go beyond the mentality that nothing bad is going to happen in the house of god," said Meeks.
Last fall, church leaders from Nacogdoches Calvary Baptist Church realized this area needed to hear the message.
"Mission is to bring people of the church, pastor and staff with law enforcement to let people of the church know what law enforcement has for us to be able to handle a crisis as they arrive," said Jerry Spraggins, Deacon and Seminar Organizer.
"We're going to give you some tools, a blueprint or a building plan and you go back to your church or your entity and put this together for yourself," said Lavaughn Parrish, Safety Team Coordinator - Calvary Baptist Church.
The arsons committed across East Texas caught the attention of many increasing the need for safety measures.
"It made everybody wake up and pay attention to what could happen in our own area," said Spraggins.
Law enforcement had one message for congregations - it doesn't matter how much money you spend on security equipment. The best tool at your disposal are the eyes and ears of the church members themselves.
Calvary Baptist installed high-tech surveillance equipment - but nothing replaces the people paying attention.
"You have to know who is that guy over there? What's he doing here? Who's that lady with the big purse? What she doing here?" said Parrish.
Church leaders hope those who attended took away a more realistic approach to their church's safety..
"We like to think we're safe in church and that's what we want - our congregations to be safe in church."
Officer Meeks brought to light the very real possibility of shootings and child molesters in church. He warns that blindly trusting just because you share a pew with them is ridiculous.