Crossroads Church plans for the worst, hopes for the best

A small Texas town where everybody knows everybody is devastated by a lone gunman Sunday morning. Their sacred place of worship was ripped apart by gunfire and at least 26 people died.

Some Tri-State churches are responding now, and some already have. The conversation isn’t easy or fun, and some wonder if it’s even needed in a house of God.

Ask Hilary Williams, safety and security coordinator at Crossroads Christian Church, what she thinks. Her position is newly installed at one of the largest churches in the Evansville metro. “It’s the scariest thing I think anyone can ever think of happening,” Williams says.

Her job, in a place of salvation, is dealing with the thought of destruction.

“It’s a sad thing we have to, but it's the world we live in now, unfortunately.”

Since 2014, multiple Warrick County Sheriff’s Deputies are at every weekend service in Newburgh, and Evansville Police officers secure the west side church.

Williams says some parishioners don’t like the idea of armed guards in the face of Jesus.

“Sometimes people, I don’t want to say are naive, but they don’t want to think things could happen in the workplace or in the church,” Williams says, “but they do.”

Only the front doors are unlocked at Crossroads, and there is a lot of behind-the-scenes security Williams doesn’t want to discuss. Staff has been trained with local security experts on how to handle shooting emergencies, and Williams says they will continue to learn and train in the future.

Williams says there is no policy on concealed carry, but the church doesn’t discourage anyone from protecting themselves. She is working to build a safety team of off-duty officers who already attend service with their guns to add an extra layer of security.

“Just because we’re a church doesn’t mean we don’t have broken people that come into the building,” Williams says, “I want everyone to feel as though they can protect themselves in whatever way they want to protect themselves.”

Thinking the worst isn’t fun or easy, but it is Hilary Williams’ job to do it. She says, “you can only plan for it, and hope that it doesn't happen.”

In a world where this can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time, sometimes all you can do is have faith.

 

For the latest breaking news and stories from across the Tri-State, follow Eyewitness News on Facebook and Twitter.

(This story was originally published November 6, 2017)


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