Worship Security Conference Highlights Need for Church Safety Changes

Updated: 02/28/2014 7:49 AM
Created: 02/27/2014 4:39 PM
By: Josh Rosenthal

Dee Pederson has been a pastor for 33 years. In the beginning, she knew she'd spend a lot of time in church, but not to talk about safety.

"It's reality," she says now. "We live in a world where there are hurting people and there are situations that none of us can fully anticipate or predict."

That's why Pederson and a dozen members of her church attended the "Safety and Security for Places of Worship" conference in Sauk Rapids on Thursday. Plenty of police showed up, too.

"This isn't about trying to get people all paranoid and worried," explained Waite Park Police Chief Dave Bentrud. "But at the same time, I think we need people -- whether it's in business, at work, in the schools, at church -- to be vigilant, to be aware."

This is actually speaker Tina Lewis Rowe's third presentation in Minnesota. Every conference has sold out. She covers things like how to conduct safety assessments of your church, and she even gives tips for youth field trips and theft prevention.

Bentrud thinks in this day and age, it's essential. "It might even save a life, and to me that's what this is all about," he said.

Pederson says she's happy she attended. She also says after the conference, her church needs to make some changes.

"It's so doable," she smiled. "There's so much we can do."

For more information about keeping your place of worship safe, you can contact the Waite Park Police Department, which can provide you with a safety manual. You can also visit Tina Lewis Rowe's website.

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