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Macon houses of worship learn protection tips at summit

U.S. Attorney of Middle Georgia Peter Leary says that they're offering tips and support to churches in Macon because of an uptick in violence

MACON, Ga. — Tuesday afternoon, Macon church leaders and law enforcement gathered at Unionville Missionary Baptist Church to learn more about how to protect houses of worship. 

We spoke with the Unionville pastor and the Macon-area U.S. Attorney about how churches and other congregations need to stay safe as they pray.

"This summit is definitely a needed item for not only the state of Georgia, but the United States of America,” says Pastor Ike Mack. 

Mack has led the Unionville Missionary Baptist Church for 36 years. He says churches are not as safe as they used to be.

"We're having a culture climate of crime that we've never seen on the level and magnitude as we view it now,” he explains. 

Mack says that no hate or violence has come to his church, but it could. He says that's why he's hosting this summit. Mack says he first became concerned about the problem after the 2015 attack on an African American church in Charleston, South Carolina. 

"A gunman came in on a Wednesday as though he was a part of the regular Wednesday Bible prayer meeting,” he says. “Yet, it turned out to be a very fatal day. That's why I think this is so vital.”

Mack has three armed guards and doors that lock from the outside in place already to make sure his church is safe. 

"It could've been here in Macon, it could've been Unionville, it could've been anywhere,” Mack says. 

U.S. Attorney of Middle Georgia Peter Leary says that they're offering tips and support to churches in Macon because of an uptick in violence towards communities of worship.

"We had another multiple homicide last night in Macon just a couple blocks from where we are today. Unfortunately, we're dealing with a real spike in violence across the country, and we're certainly seeing that in middle Georgia as well,” he says. 

Leary says that some of the violence targets churches and this summit can prepare them.  

"We have offered tools for churches, synagogues, and mosques to think about how to put a safety plan in place before violence occurs, to have exit strategies, how to harden the target of the house of worship,” says Leary.

Leary says they'll offer this training all across Central Georgia this summer. Over 83 people registered for this event, representing 25 houses of worship.

    

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