CENTERVILLE, Ohio (WDTN) - Churches across the country are faced with a new kind of evil. In Wisconsin, it was a case of domestic terror. A man, who opened fire at a Sikh Temple during Sunday morning service, killed six people and then took his own life. A similar terror happened in a town just south of Atlanta. There, a gunman walked into the chapel of a Mega-church and fatally shot someone.
Its tragedies like these that have kept Security Advisor Mark Stusek, busy. Stusek is a retired Dayton police major. He has dedicated his life to blending his mission, "to protect and serve," with his passion for Christ.
"God is able, but God also gives us a mind and a spirit to understand that there is evil in the world," said Stusek.
Stusek has teamed up with local churches, like Fairhaven in Centerville, to battle this evil.
"We were hired to do a security assessment and vulnerability study of the grounds here at the church," said Stusek. "My company, G2G solutions, creates and implements security plans, that include armed guards and hi tech surveillance."
It's a unique challenge to implement for Lead Pastor Dr. David Smith, who strives to provide an inviting but secure place of worship.
"We are vulnerable because we say anybody can come and we want to accept everybody who comes through the doors," said Smith.
Pastor Smith said thieves have victimized Fairhaven in the past.
"We've found equipment stolen in pawn shops downtown and bought them back," said Smith.
The growth of the church is what really prompted leaders to heighten security, with 5,000 members and counting.
Fairhaven's security team keep constant watch on security cameras. In addition, three members are stationed throughout the church during services and special events. An armed security guard is also always on hand. It might seem excessive for a place of peace, but Pastor Smith said the purpose is to make members feel safe and secure.
"We've received nothing but positive feedback," said Smith.
Its good to see the yellow shirts around because I know that they are keeping an eye," said Angie Turner, who attends Fairhaven with her husband and three children.
"Fairhaven's focus on protecting children is what made me want to join the church in the first place," said Smith.
When a child enters Fairhaven they must first check-in. They receive a sticker they must wear an on it is a code. No child leaves up unless an adult has a matching sticker.
"It makes me feel comfortable knowing my child is safe," said Smith. "There are a lot of people coming and going on Sundays at this church. It can be chaotic."
For Pastor Smith, it's one more way to protect his flock, in a place where prayer is the purpose and the faithful seek sanctuary to focus on a higher power.
"We'll watch your family. The building. We'll watch everything that goes on so that when you walk through the doors at Fairhaven you can concentrate on the story that needs to be told. You can concentrate on Jesus."
We're looking into what it takes to become a security guard in Ohio.
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