Churches are traditionally places we think of as not only being sacred, but safe. But that image was shattered after the mass shootings in South Carolina and Texas. The threat of violence presents a unique challenge for institutions like churches. Unlike schools, hospitals and courthouses, churches are constrained when it comes to subjecting visitors to security measures. That leaves church leaders concerned they may not be doing enough, so they want to know all they can about providing security.
In Boston, church leaders have been meeting to share ideas about providing security that is effective, but not intrusive.
On Tremont Street across from Boston Common is the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, which has an sandwich board outside that welcomes visitors. It's a welcome that also comes with a warning: "No violence and threats of violence, even if you are in the right." Explaining the sign, Acting Dean Nancy Gossling said, "we welcome all people, but we don't welcome all behaviors."
It is a new reality church leaders must face: walking that fine line between security and openness — keeping their doors, and their eyes, open.