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COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Recent incidents of violence in unexpected places like schools, hospitals and churches have caused many organizations to beef up security.

When you go to church the last thing you think of is getting hurt. The church is known as one of the safest places to be but now even churches are taking precautions to insure safety.

“We live in a very violent society. I know there’s a lot of issues about guns and personally, I don’t think the issue is guns. I think the issue is people. It’s usually people that have mental illnesses that commit these crimes and do these things. I think it’s important for churches to protect themselves,” says Pastor Ron Delgado of Evangel Church in Columbus.

Delgado says having a large congregation means they have to be prepared for the unknown.

“We have a security team made up of a group of men. They all wear black t-shirts with the word security in white. They’re assigned on a weekly basis every service. On Sunday morning, for example, they watch, they patrol the hallways. They also go out at different times through the service and walk around the parking lot to make sure there’s nothing going on outside in the parking lot that’s suspicious,” says Delgado.

Pastor Jody Andrews with Life Church says they don’t have security but they are cautious.

“We’ve got ushers and we’ve got greeters who’ve served in the military. We’re blessed to have many members in our congregation who’ve served in the armed forces. So they’re very much aware of security measures and watching people’s behavior,” says Andrews.

Andrews believes the church must remain a safe haven.

“All churches should be a place where people can come and feel safe, they can be vulnerable and not be worried about being harmed,” says Andrews.

According to the site www.safeatchurch.org, over 700 people have been injured or killed on faith-based grounds in the US since 1999.

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