Beyond Belief: A Dallas Pastor Takes Steps to Protect His Congregation

It was back in 1999 when a North Texas church experienced one of the worst mass shootings in history. The ambush at Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth killed seven people and hurt seven others.

So with an ever-growing concern about attacks on churches, one Dallas pastor is speaking out about how he protects his parishioners.

Todd Atkins is the pastor of Salem Institutional Baptist Church in Southeast Dallas. He's been a member of the congregation ever since he can remember.

He admits a lot has changed over the years, and the sounds of innocence from the elementary school across the street from his church are part of the fabric he says he's committed to protecting.

"It breaks my heart and it makes me think it could have been us our congregation, could have been the one on the news, could have been facing the tragedy," said Atkins.

"It's always in the back of my head, so our deacons, our officers here, are very vigilant about it. They walk in and out of services all the time to monitor parking lots, doors to make sure no one slips in," said Atkins.

Retired Hurst Police Officer Jimmy Meeks, of Sheepdog Seminars, will soon host a seminar at the Salem Institutional Baptist Church and is impressed with the security measures already in place.

Meeks said he has been on a crusade to help congregations nationwide to protect themselves against violence. He's also a longtime minister and says he has a deep emotional investment in keeping congregations safe.

"The biggest message we want to bring to the churches in America is you need to wake up. You need to wake up. This violence is here, we're not talking about," Meeks said.

"In spite of everything, we are going to love you unconditionally, but when you want to come in here and do harm, believe that as the book says we're going to watch, fight and pray. We're here to protect these people," Atkins said.

MORE: Sheepdog Seminars

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