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Violence in Churches


Violent crime in churches is a well-documented fact.

Ministry security expert Carl Chinn has tracked hundreds of deadly force incidents at churches since 1999. Recent statistics posted at include attacks, abductions, suspicious deaths, suicides and deadly force used in intervention

The National Archive of Criminal Justice also reports thousands of such crimes in houses of worship. The most frequent triggers are domestic violence spilling over to the church, personal conflict involving non-related church members and robbery. The crimes occur in United Methodist churches, and virtually all other denominations.

United Methodist-related Pfeiffer University, Security Executive Council and the law firm of Hindson & Melton, LLC, will present "Plan, Prepare, Protect: Strengthening Safety in Ministry" April 17-19 at Pfeiffer's campus in Charlotte, N.C.

The conference will prepare clergy, church business administrators, finance leaders and trustees to educate congregations about security priorities, prepare for successful mitigation of security risks and evaluate the congregation's safety plans. Leaders will include Bob Hayes of Security Executive Council, the Rev. Joy T. Melton, author of Safe Sanctuaries: The Church Responds to the Abuse, Exploitation and Neglect of Older Adults, and Pfeiffer University faculty experienced in stewardship and risk-management preparedness.

"We can, and really must, reduce the likelihood of crime and the injuries that can be devastating for individuals and congregations," said Melton, an attorney and United Methodist deacon. "Thinking ahead and planning proactively are keys to mitigating the possible risks. Raising awareness of security tools and educating church leaders and members isn't a costly endeavor and, it will go a long way toward protecting your church."

For registration information, contact Melton by email at or by phone at (770) 512-8383.

Adapted from an article by the Rev. Joy Melton, Atlanta.