DENVER (CBS4) – A church is supposed to be a safe, sacred place for people to gather and pray. Yet on Sunday, another place of worship became the site of a deadly shooting.
“That’s the last place you would expect for violence to break out, of course,” Dr. Michael Dent, pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church in Denver, said.
The shooting claimed the lives of 26 people and injured 20 more at a small church in Texas. Dent was born and raised in Texas, so the heartbreaking news hit close to home.
“Knowing a lot of people in Texas and having family there,” he told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann, “I grieve deeply for them and their great loss.”
Pastor Dent says 4,000 people come the downtown Denver church every week. During Sunday services, there is an armed officer there for safety, and Dent said more protection is likely unseen.
“It would not be a surprise to me if some of our members might be armed, with permits,” Dent said. “That’s not uncommon, just like what happened in Walmart last week. There were people in the stores who had guns.”
Deadly shootings in shopping centers, theaters, schools, concerts and other churches have stirred conversation at Trinity United Methodist about adding security.
However, Dent said he doesn’t want the church to become an armed building, rather a welcoming place for peaceful prayer and healing.
“We want to practice hospitality,” Dent said. “That’s a high value of faith communities. You can’t prevent everything from happening when people are bent on evil.”
Pastor Dent said there are programs available outside of the church that train the public how to respond if there were a threat during services.
Those training opportunities do cost money, but Dent added the church’s board of trustees may consider supporting those types of programs.
Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team as the morning reporter in 2012. After serving as weekend morning anchor, Kelly is now Covering Colorado First for CBS4 News at 10. Connect with Kelly on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @KellyCBS4.