Hundreds Attend Seminar on Violence in Churches

By Eric King
|  Monday, May 6, 2013  |  Updated 7:07 PM CDT
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More than 350 people from churches across the country were in Fort Worth Monday learning how to secure their sanctuaries. The Sheepdog Seminar is aimed at limiting church violence.

Eric King, NBC 5 News

More than 350 people from churches across the country were in Fort Worth Monday learning how to secure their sanctuaries. The Sheepdog Seminar is aimed at limiting church violence.

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Hundreds of people from churches across the country attended a seminar in Fort Worth on how to help those affected by crimes committed in churches.

The Sheepdog Seminar was held at Wedgwood Baptist Church, the site of a Sept. 15, 1999, shooting that killed seven and injured seven others. More than 350 people attended.

Wedgwood pastor Al Meredith said record 75 people were killed in houses of worship in the United States last year.

"Tragedies strike our churches in so many different ways," he said. "It's not always the shooter coming in and shooting at people. There are predators out there that take advantage of us because we're trying to get people in our doors and predators go the path of least resistance."

One of the first mass assaults on a church happened at First Baptist Church Dangerfield in east Texas in June 1980. Cheryl Hendrick was inside the sanctuary with two of her three children.

"The church had been going on with the services for about 30 minutes," she said. "All at once, the back door swung open, this man screamed, 'This is war,' and he started shooting."

Hendrick said her daughter, Gina, was shot in the head and died instantly.

"Even though it's been nearly 33 years, you never forget," she said. "When you hear it happening to other people, I still cry for them because I know what they're headed for."

Since the 1999 Wedgwood shooting, the church has added security cameras to every corner of the church, Meredith said.

The church also has a ministry assistant team with key people who are prepared in case of a violent breakout, he said. They are not identifiable to the general public or the congregation.

The seminar is scheduled to conclude Tuesday.

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