Last week a shooting occurred in a place where people go to seek solace, but now some church leaders are questioning their safety and security.
Julian Riddle, the pastor of Surfside Presbyterian Church, said the Charleston shootings will now affect the way they operate. Inside the Surfside Presbyterian Church, and most churches, are versions of the cross, which is arguably the most important symbol in Christianity. The symbol is all around, and so it has the feeling of peace. But Pastor Julian Riddle said that peace was taken away from the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston Wednesday night. “I don’t think there’s a church at the beach that’s not today grieving,” said Riddle. “Grieving heavily over knowing the brothers and sisters that are having to experience this.”
The Emanuel AME Church had security cameras that played a major role in identifying the suspect, Dylann Roof.
Pastor Riddle said his church doesn’t have cameras, or any security measures in place. “There’s no monitoring of who comes in or who goes out,” he said. “We have doors that are locked on a security system at night, but on a day-to-day you’re actually hoping for people to come in, for people who are different, who are looking for help or Christ. That’s why we exist.”
But Pastor Riddle says unfortunately now that will change. He said they’ve talked about using cameras, especially for when people come to the door, so they know who is entering. “It’s probably where every one is going to have to go, is cameras,” he said. “And that’s just a shame.” He knows what happened in Charleston, could happen anywhere, even at his church. But he said the people at his church aren’t going to be fearful, rather, aware. “It’s going to make you think of every person that comes in and ask the question “could that happen here?” he said. “We are aware that it could, but we’ve made a decision here that we believe that God’s got his hand on this whole situation and for some reason God has called on that church down there to go through something and he’s going to carry them through it.”
There are reports that Dylann Roof said it was hard for him to follow through with the shootings because the people were so nice to him. Pastor Riddle said if that’s the case, what a great tribute to the church and the people who accepted this man into their place of worship.