MEMPHIS, Tenn. — With violence among faith leaders on the rise, pastors are now getting safety lessons.

Bishops and pastors were away from their usual spot in the pulpit on Saturday morning. They were among the congregation learning about ways to protect their members and themselves from gun violence.

“This is not grandma and grandpa’s church anymore,” security trainer Bennie Cobb said. “We are living in a new day where we have to take new measures for safety and security.”

The even was held at Holy City Church of God in Christ. Pastor Perry Little said he knows all too well about the dangers that can happen inside the church.

“My mother, before she passed away, was at a prayer meeting, and an individual came and put a shotgun to their head and robbed them,” he said.

Little also said although that happened years ago, he did not expect that we would now be living in a world where church security is a necessity.

“If someone comes into the church then will the people be protected,” Little said. “We are there to be shepherds of the sheep, so we are concerned about them.”

Cobb told WREG that events like this are more important than ever.

“In an addition to run, hide, fight, you want to plan to prepare and practice for an incident,” he said. “Any incident that might happen in your church and your community. Even the mall. So, not only is it for church security which is what we are doing here today, but we train the public, and we train individuals also.”

The rise of church violence has been happening around the world including the recent holdup and robbery at a New York church that was captured on live stream and the murder of Pastor Autura Eason-Williams in her own driveway.

“Not saying this was the situation with this particular pastor, but in this day and time, we can’t leave our windows down,” Cobb said. “We can’t leave our doors unlocked. We have to be more and more cautious of where we go and what is going on around us.”

Pastor Little said he expects more safety meetings at churches in the future.

“I think what the incident shows us is that even when we think we might be secure in our community, even in our own driveway a lot of times, we might not be,” Little said.

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