May 17, 2006

Guarding God's house: Churches confront security needs

The News-Sentinel

The Dallas Morning News
Sean Smith looks the part.

At 6 feet 7 inches tall and 320 pounds, he comfortably carries the title of director of security for the Potter's House in Dallas.

When Pastor T.D. Jakes travels, Smith never strays from his side.

"If someone were to try to do him bodily harm, my job is to try to thwart that as best I can," said Smith, a former professional football player.

Few pastors need as much protection as Bishop Jakes, an internationally known preacher and author.

But places of worship of all sizes are spending more time and money safeguarding their staff, congregants and property. Measures range from installing sophisticated surveillance systems to conducting criminal background checks on volunteers and workers.

Churches are thinking like businesses, developing risk management strategies to head off physical, financial, even emotional damage. Ongoing stories of clergy sexual abuse, across denomination lines, have helped awaken congregations to the myriad risks they face.

Posted by kshaw at May 17, 2006 07:56 AM