Hundreds fill the seats for first Church Security Summit in Georgetown

Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody addresses crowd at Church Security Summit (KXAN/Erin Cargile)

GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — It started as a post on Twitter following the mass church shooting in Sutherland Springs.

Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody asked if there was any interest in a security summit for local churches. The responses starting flooding in, and the number of people registering kept rising as the days continued.

Sunday, two weeks after the tragedy, representatives from more than 100 churches showed up to Celebration Church in Georgetown to learn something new.

“You know, 20 years ago if you had a police car in the front of your church, people would be asking, ‘Why are they here, what’s wrong?’ Now it’s the opposite,” said Joe Champion, Senior Pastor at Celebration Church.

Even on this topic, Champion turned to scripture for guidance.

“Even Jesus himself said to the disciples — if you don’t have a sword, buy one,” Champion said. “Now who knows what that means — it could be an attitude, but could it be that Jesus said even to his disciples provide some level of security?”

After their main services, another sweep was done with a bomb sniffing K-9 before the seats were filled with a different crowd.

Granger Police Chief Bob Shelton was there, and said his city has half a dozen smaller congregations like Sutherland Springs who all had leaders present. He knows they will walk away armed with tools to keep their members safe.

“Mainly it’s through training, and church staff being trained to recognize certain dangers and paying attention to your surroundings and what’s going on,” Shelton said.

Sheriff Chody hopes everyone has a security plan.

“I think Sutherland really demonstrated it doesn’t matter what size of church you’re at, what city you’re in because this was small-town Texas,” said Chody.

A tragedy like no other is quickly becoming a movement for change.

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