LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Angelina County law enforcement gathered this morning to host an active shooter workshop for churches. Those who attended learned some proactive steps to protect their place of worship and their members. Church members said the need for this class shows that times have changed.
Here in the Bible belt, church is a part of everyday life.
"Church has always been a place of reverence and respect," said Rev. Ronnie Coleman, of the Providence No.1 Church in Leggett. Church is a place where you're comfortable and go for your relationship with God."
"It's where you need to be," said Troy Bohall, a member of Denman Avenue Baptist Church.
After the increase of violent incidents against churches across the nation and churches close to home, Angelina County law enforcement trained church staff and members on how to be prepared for an active shooter while praising.
"Also in the back of your mind you have that what if this happens," Coleman said.
"Evil is here," Bohall said.
"I'm going to take back the security measures and the team in placement," Coleman said.
"It was about getting together and having a plan before something happens," Bohall said.
Many East Texans fill the pews as a place of praise and worship. They never thought this day would come.
"The church was always sacred. No one dare come in to desecrate the house of God," said Rev. Lionel Whitacker of the Simpson Chapel Baptist Church.
"Times have changed and people have changed, so therefore we have to be proactive rather than reactive," Coleman said.
Church members say it's unfortunate that this class is necessary, but they all agreed it best to be protected in the house of the Lord.
"I never would have thought this would happen, but in the day we live in now. It's reality," Coleman said.
"Do I think it's going to happen in my church? No. Do I want to be prepared? Yes," said Bohall.
At that training, the Angelina County Sheriff's Office said attacks on churches nationwide have increased by 2800% since 2000. The office was expecting a turnout of about 100. There were over 200 in attendance.