LITTLE ROCK, AR - You don't have to look far to find incidents of violence in churches. A Cross County jury convicted a man last month for beating an elderly woman to death inside a church. Now area pastors are working on fighting back to try and protect their church members.
Approximately 25 – 30 pastors from around central Arkansas spent Thursday at Geyer Springs Baptist Church at a seminar put on by the Spokane, Washington based Center for Personal Protection & Safety.
Much of the seminar dealt with how to handle potentially violent situations inside a church.
Roger Stewart with Olive Branch Baptist Church in Pine Bluff says he has dealt with incidents on the church grounds but never inside the church itself.
"Ten or twelve years ago it wasn't part of the criteria, today I have to think about it," Stewart says.
Safety experts say churches face many of the same challenges that colleges do. Both are typically open and welcoming to a wide range of people.
The biggest concern is the active shooter, someone with a gun moving inside the church looking for victims.
Captain Mike Davis with North Little Rock Police Department says a seminar like this is long overdue.
"I think the church has a responsibility now and they've got to step up," Davis says.
Church members at Third Baptist in Little Rock learned that firsthand last September
, robbed at gun point during Sunday school. It was a brazen crime that led Little Rock Police Chief Stuart Thomas to announce publicly when officers made arrests.
Pastors FOX16 News spoke with today say their next goal is to take this information and safety education and start implementing it at their church.
The church violence training seminar also included how to handle hostile people who may not be armed and also extended into overall security, including a more complete analysis of any church volunteer working with children.