Town Presbyterian churches eager for security seminar

At least two Farragut churches will be attending this weekend’s Church Security Seminar being offered by Knox County Sheriff’s Office in response to recent mass shootings.

Christ Covenant Presbyterian Church and Union Cumberland Presbyterian Church have both confirmed they will be sending representatives to the event, which will be held from 9 a.m. to around noon, Saturday, Dec. 2, at Temple Baptist Church chapel in Powell.

The seminar is geared specifically for church pastors and their security teams, if applicable.

Seth Hammond, Christ Covenant senior pastor, said Monday his church already has a police officer who patrols the premesis during church services and also has a church safety plan in place for children who attend.

He said several church members are attending Saturday’s seminar.

“We don’t have a specific plan in place for the adults,” Hammond said. “That is something we will be working on.”

KCSO’s training unit will help lead the seminar, offering specific directives and advice on conducting threat assessments and addressing active threats, according to the KCSO web site.

Clarence Sexton, Temple Baptist Church pastor, said at a press conference announcing the event he was “delighted that the Sheriff’s Office was doing something like this.

“We think, ‘Could this happen?’” the pastor added. “We think ‘never,’ but anywhere it could happen.”

The seminar will address the best use of a church’s resources, and how to prepare its key church members for any potentially violent or threatening situation.

“This will help churches that have security teams, or if a church is even thinking about having a security team,” Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones said at the press conference. “It is also good for churches that are looking to update their security plans, which a lot of churches are thinking about doing.”

Dave Garner heads up the safety team at Union Cumberland Presbyterian, and he will attend the seminar on its behalf.

He said he wrote up the church’s safety plan and helped form its safety team about four years ago, after attending a similar seminar.

“One of the biggest problems is how to address [situations with] armed individuals,” he said. “And, it is not just shooters [outside church memberships] — there can also be internal threats, too.”

Garner said the correct focus is on active shooters, but other safety issues, such as storms, tornadoes and fires, also should be addressed.

“Every church needs a safety plan,” stressed Garner, who is a retired lieutenant police reserve officer. “This will be an excellent opportunity for smaller churches to get that started.”

There is no cost to attend. Space was available as of Monday, Nov. 27, said Martha Dooley, KCSO spokewoman. Call KCSO, 865-215-2461, or e-mail for more info or to register.