San Antonio-area churches enter lent season on alert following Houston church shooting

Religious leaders are prioritizing security in responses to violence

SAN ANTONIO – Mass shootings at places of worship, synagogues and temples are elevating the alert level for religious leaders across the country, including San Antonio.

The most recent shooting happened three hours away Sunday at Lakewood Church in Houston. The tragedy is prompting local churches to reevaluate their safety and security procedures.

Herman Price Jr., the pastor at St. John Baptist Church in Leon Valley, said safety has been a top priority for churches, regardless of size. Some of them simply can’t afford to pay for the security and technology.

“Churches and schools are soft targets, and so, the church has to be vigilant,” Price Jr. said.

Price Jr. said they pay for armed security, but they may consider a different approach following Sunday’s shooting in Houston.

“It made me rethink what we’re doing, and to think about -- maybe -- the need to make that investment, to pay off duty, uniform officers to be at the church when we have activities going on,” Price Jr. said.

Ryan Searles with IMEG Crop works with safety security design. Searles said more and more churches are being built or remodeled with worst-case scenarios in mind.

“You have to be able to notice what’s going on at your territorial boundaries and property lines, parking lots, entryways, all that, so you can catch something before it’s inside your establishment,” Searles said.

KSAT reached out to other local churches to find out about their security approaches.

“First Baptist Church of San Antonio is praying for the leaders and congregation of Lakewood Church as well as other churches that have been plagued by violence or harassment over the past several years,” a First Baptist Church of San Antonio spokesperson said in a statement. “As a matter of normal practice, we continually monitor and access our processes and protocols because the safety and security of our congregational family and friends are of the utmost importance. We pray for the Lord’s peace and grace over our communities.”

“The safety of parishioners and personnel in our churches is of paramount importance for the Archdiocese of San Antonio,” a statement from the Archdiocese of San Antonio read. “Security measures at our parishes and facilities are regularly evaluated and reviewed for any enhancements or improvements necessary.”

About the Authors

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.

Alexis Montalbo is a photojournalist at KSAT 12.

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