NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - All East Texas churches are invited to a free Safe to Worship seminar hosted this coming Tuesday by Nacogdoches County Sheriff Jason Bridges and State Representative Travis Clardy (R-Nacogdoches).
The class deals with safety and security for churches. The presenter who makes it his business to help churches cope in an ever-changing criminal environment.
Robert Hurst knows his church code. The Nacogdoches resident is probably the one who implemented it. Following 40 years of law enforcement, he's now owner of Critical Church Safety, guiding churches to an important goal.
"The goal is to minister, but be able to minister in an atmosphere of safety," Hurst said.
Hurst teaches that a good place to start is in the parking lot with signage and people.
"Creating funnels where people in need can come in, but not leaving a lot of openings that are unguarded, unprotected, and unseen," Hurst said.
At this church, two doors remain open during worship. The rest are locked.
"OK, for instance a person comes through a door of a church. They should immediately be greeted by someone that is trained to step between them and the audience," Hurst said. "And when that person reaches out, they're going to be able to tell about their demeanor, by the way they carry themselves. They're looking to see if there's any obvious weapon upon them."
Another pointer is to watch over the pastor.
"Good teams will have one person that is probably assigned to watch specifically over they pastor because they seem to be the main targets," Hurst said.
Hurst advises everyone in a church to seek training.
"Sunday school teachers, elders, deacons, leadership within the church," Hurst said. "We encourage law enforcement officers, past and present. And, of course, we encourage church members to come."
Hurst said training develops more than a safety program. It creates a safety culture.
The Safety and Security Seminar for all East Texas Churches is April 12 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Nacogdoches County Exposition Center. The training is free. Planners ask that you please register for the class by calling the Nacogdoches County Sheriff Office.