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PARSON TO PERSON

Dear Friends:

“Open Hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors. The people of the United Methodist Church.” This has been the motto of our denomination for a number of years now. It’s a good motto, reflecting a sense of warmth and invitation. It tells all persons who come here that they are welcome to worship, study, pray and fellowship with us. We want people to come and be with us, and become part of the Body of Christ here at Trinity UMC.

As your pastor, I take the words of that motto seriously. I want our church to always be a place where not only our members, but also any visitors, will know that they are welcomed and encouraged to find the love of Jesus Christ here. But as a shepherd of this flock, I also take very seriously the responsibility to keep all of you secure and safe while you are here. That is a primary reason why our teachers, nursery workers, and youth workers are required to undergo Child Protection Training. It is a way for us to offer a sense of security for all of our children, youth and vulnerable adults. And because I take this responsibility seriously, I want to take some time to share with you some thoughts regarding making our church more secure in light of the frequency of gun violence incidents in our country.
In recent years we have all been devastated to read about gun violence in our schools, community gathering places, and churches. Since 1999—2017, there have been 22 gun violence-related incidents in places of worship; the most recent being in the Emmanuel AME Church of Charleston, South Carolina, in June of 2015, and the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, in November 2017. Most of us have had our attention drawn to school shootings because they have been more numerous and the loss of life has been tragic. Due to the increased frequency of such events, many schools have begun taking steps to safeguard their students and staff through increased awareness, proper training/drills, and more attention to securing their buildings. We tell ourselves it should not be this way, but, sadly, this is the way it is in the world today.

While schools are tightening security to make themselves a “harder” target, churches still remain as a “soft” target. With that in mind, I attended a workshop in February in Lansing hosted by “Troopers 4 Christ Ministries.” Members of the Michigan State Police who are Christians led our workshop. The purpose was to educate us to just how “soft” a target our churches are and what we might do to “harden” a “soft” target. I have met with our Board of Trustees to discuss this matter with them, and the Chairperson of our Trustees, Jack Hobson, has shared this information with our Administrative Council. There are several phases to a plan we are considering. Some aspects of this plan might involve security cameras and ways to be able to barricade our classrooms. Another part of this plan is to put together a “Safety and Security Team” to be watchful during events at our church. But the simplest thing that we can do that we can implement almost immediately is to begin a policy of locking our doors. On a typical Sunday morning, all of our doors are unlocked so that people have easy access to entering our church. What we are proposing is that we begin locking doors when people are safely in the building. For instance, for our 10:30 a.m. service, the ONLY entry point will be the doors at the Sanctuary entrance. All other doors in the building will be locked. Within a few minutes after the start of worship at 10:30 a.m., ALL doors will be locked. Late-comers to the service will only be allowed in if our ushers and greeters recognize those persons trying to enter.

We realize that this may be an inconvenience to a few people from time to time. But we feel that we have a responsibility to protect our flock. You may wonder why we should do this given that the potential of such an event happening might be minimal. But one thing that has been brought to my attention is that we must begin to think from the perspective of not IF something of this nature could happen, but WHEN it happens. That way of thinking certainly changes our perspective.

I am bringing this to your attention through our Church Newsletter so that we can get a conversation going about this issue. We have brought this to the attention of our Administrative Council but we also want to get this information out to as many of you as possible. We need to hear what you think about these measures. Please know that I welcome your feedback. So do any of the members of our Board of Trustees. So please feel free to talk with Jack Hobson, Ed Kohagen, Gail Schwandt, Gary Azelton, Keith Kingsbury, Jim Smith, Dawn Adams, Jerry Terry, or Dianne Reeves. We want your input. We would like to begin implementing locking our doors by no later than the end of April, so it is important that we hear from you very soon.

It is a sad thing to me that we must consider these steps. But the world in which we live has changed, and danger is never far away. It is essential for us to be alert and aware and do all that we can do to provide protection for our people. Please let me know what you think.

Shalom,

Pastor Tim

WHAT 2 WATCH 4!!!!!!

Saturday, April 14—Food Distribution and Community Supper
Saturday, April 21—Mission of Hope Fundraiser @TUMC
                                        (see Beth Harris for details)
Sunday, April 22—Youth Service @ 8 a.m. & 10:30 a.m.
Saturday, April 28—New District #5 Gathering in Owosso

Saturday, May 5—9 a.m.—Noon—Child Protection Training
                                                             @ Trinity UMC

 
 
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