MASSILLON, Ohio– A Stark County church is working to protect its congregation from the threat of a potential mass shooting through the creation of a safety and security ministry.
“Churches have become a target, large groups have become targets for whatever personal agenda to hurt people,” said Rev. Dr. Roger Alber.
Alber, of First Baptist Church in Massillon, said he never imagined one day he would carry a concealed weapon to service. Things changed after a 2007 deadly shooting at New Life Church in Colorado, where his daughter attended. She was not on campus at the time of the shooting.
“I’ve had my ministry degree for over 40 years,” Alber said. “The fact that this type of stuff has to be thought of.”
The ministry consists of people from medical and law enforcement backgrounds. The reverend said anyone carrying a gun must not only have a CCW, but also have tactical training.
“It used to be you would think no one with any criminal background would ever break the sanctity of the church, but now that’s not true,” said Rev. Dennis McDonald, who was key in the ministry’s creation. “We read in the paper quite often of people shooting up schools, churches and mosques, things like that.”
Church officials said they have been in communication with local law enforcement about safety protocols should there ever be an emergency during service.
“I hope that things in this country calm down again and people become more civil,” McDonald said.
The safety and security ministry was formed nearly one year ago.