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Armed guards keep watch over church services|
Lori Davis remembers a time when the doors were always open at her church -- and not guarded.
"No one thought twice about their safety. I guess we took it for granted," said Davis.
But things have changed. In an era when terrorism threats and deadly shootings at schools and churches have made headlines, religious leaders are rethinking their security strategies. Last Saturday, a minister was fatally shot and another man wounded outside of a church in Kentucky where the men went to attend a funeral.
Such violence has houses of worship evolving from the days of walkie-talkies and video surveillance to armed guards, who keep a watchful eye over worship services and church.
"We live in a sinful world and people do crazy and irrational things," said Davis, a member of the Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky.
Highview, like a number of other churches nationwide, has a volunteer security force consisting of at least one armed guard during any given worship service. See where some recent deadly church shootings occurred »
"I'm much more comfortable knowing they're there if needed rather than just hoping for the best," Davis said.
Highview also has a medical team on the grounds during weekend services, when thousands of people pass through its doors.
Every member of the security team, from ushers to medics and armed guards, receives some kind of training related to their post, be it conflict management or anti-terrorism tactics.
"We realized that, as the largest Baptist church in Kentucky, we'd be a little naïve to think something would never happen to us," said Highview Pastor Randy Record, who is also a police officer. "We're catching up in an era of terrorism and a church is no different."
Many Highview worshippers say they are comforted by the fact that there is a focus on security.
"There are no safe places anymore. Something could happen to me in church just as easily as at home or in the grocery store," said Sheri Mock. "But I don't worry, because I feel secure in church with the program they have."