Archive for Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Churches boost security to protect employees

Ongoing problems with the area's homeless population has led a downtown church to lock its doors during the day.

March 24, 2009


Another downtown Lawrence church has taken security precautions to keep out vagrants who might cause problems.

On Monday, First United Methodist Church, 946 Vt., began locking its doors to protect employees and others there on church business.

Church members have been finding an increasing number of intoxicated individuals, some possibly homeless. The Rev. Tom Brady said there also have been a few incidents of vandalism.

“Our problem is people who come into the building and we don’t know they’re in here,” he said. “Then when we do find them, we have a hard time getting them out.”

The church now uses a buzzer-and-speaker system to alert the church office. Doors will be unlocked, however, during regular Sunday services or when there are other group events.

Brady recalled an incident when an agitated man entered the church saying he needed money. He walked into Brady’s office, said he needed to lie down, and proceeded to stretch out on the floor.

“He was a pretty big kid and pretty strong,” Brady said. “I knew I wasn’t going to be able to move him. When it gets to be something like that, we call the police.”

Other churches in the downtown area near the Lawrence Community Shelter, 214 W. 10th, have taken similar precautions.

They include: Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vt.; First Christian Church, 1000 Ky.; and Trinity Episcopal Church, 1011 Vt.

The Rev. Peter Luckey said a buzzer system and closed-circuit security camera was installed at Plymouth Congregational Church about one year ago.

“This is a big building and there are lot of nooks and crannies,” Luckey said. “We don’t want a situation where there’s people wandering around the building and we don’t know about it.”

First Christian Church, home of Lawrence’s Interdenominational Nutrition Kitchen, also has a security system. LINK provides free, nutritious meals to those in need. The Rev. Randy Beeman said before its security system was installed five year ago, vagrants would sometimes go unnoticed.

“They’d crawl into a closet and go to sleep and we’d find them there the next morning,” he said.

Downtown church pastors will be meeting later this week with police officials to discuss security measures outside the churches.

“We have some people who may have substance issues and sometimes they get pretty aggressive with people just walking around the church or coming up to the church,” Beeman said.


number3of5 9 years, 3 months ago

Whatever happened to churches being a sanctuary for all who entered? What would Jesus think of locked doors on places of God? Or are they places of MEN AND MONEY?

number3of5 9 years, 3 months ago

Keeping people safe is a wonderful idea Informed, but would the Lord give one more than they can handle? Have all other avenues been explored and came up empty? I do not feel that Jesus would have called the police. I also do not feel that he would be so worried about the property that they have as he did not strive to amass wealth here on earth, but in the Kingdom of Heaven.

number3of5 9 years, 3 months ago

Informed, I did not twist any scripture. I quoted no scripture. I just stated how I feel. If the shoe fits, wear it.

BlackVelvet 9 years, 3 months ago

marvelous idea ibroke! Send all the homeless, the downtrodden, the sick and in despair, to live with number3of5.

50YearResident 9 years, 3 months ago

Churches will have protection from the homeless, by the homeless, when they start their weeks of housing the homeless in their santuaries. The homeless will protect their freebies to the end.

HermioneElliott 9 years, 3 months ago

I have no idea why some people are downright silly. Of course the churches must be locked. Some of the homeless see the churches and liberals as there to be taken advantage of and a lot of the time it works. I have been waiting for the bus downtown and heard how these homeless men talk about the people who give them money. Not thankful, let's just put it that way. The churches will be helping families with small children and they will have safeguards in place to protect the children. I said at the beginning that the Community Shelter was a bad, bad, idea.

ohgeeze 9 years, 3 months ago

As a church secretary I am SO thankful for the camera and speaker system that my church has installed. Secretaries are most of the time the first people there in the morning to get things ready for the day. You don’t know how scary it is to go into the church alone and find someone sleeping underneath your desk or on the pews in the sanctuary, or on the couch in the youth room (yes…all have happened). When it is just you and that person you aren’t thinking “Oh, they just needed help”, you’re thinking “Crap! What if they hurt me”? That’s just being truthful as a human being in a survival situation. It just takes one person to make the wrong decision.

Our church has never turned away someone in need. If we can not help them, we make sure that we find someone in the community that can meet their needs. However, in tough times like these the church is being bombarded with sometimes 20 calls a day of people requesting money for utilities or gas, and it is so hard to weed out who is the “neediest”, if you will. One of our missions is to help those in need, but our funds are drained almost as soon as we get them. That is why we are working with others in the community and all requests for assistance are evaluated and recommended by established social service agencies, such as ECKAN, the Salvation Army or the Ballard Center. This way we can verify that yes, their electric is going to be shut off, so we can write a check directly to Westar.

This is where those speaker systems come to such great use. You don’t know what it’s like until you are talking to an irate angry person about how they have to through our checking procedure. And I can tell you from experience that if they get irate and angry, they probably weren’t going to use the money for electric bills….I feel so much safer with this system in place.

I absolutely believe that God will not “give one more than they can handle”. But God also gave us brains to be smart.

Confrontation 9 years, 3 months ago

Yes, Machiavelli, hire the drunks and mentally ill to provide security at the church. That sure makes sense. You seriously think that most of these bums want a job?! Hilarious!

woodenfleaeater 9 years, 3 months ago

Why do the employees of the church need security? Shouldn't God be doing his job and protecting them? And, if they do get injured or killed, wouldn't that just be "God's Will"?

Confrontation 9 years, 3 months ago

It sounds like you have right idea, 2fat4u. Doing meth and owning a gun :)

average 9 years, 3 months ago

Many of the mainline protestant denominations should have merged decades ago. Average Sunday service of all of them would probably fit in any of them with room to spare. Add security costs to all the other costs of keeping half a dozen imperceptibly different churches going.

trinity 9 years, 3 months ago

no YOU do the meth! :) (sorry, but that typo made me giggle)

LovelyAngel315 9 years, 3 months ago

Just wanted to mention that Plymouth Congregational Church is also where Head Start(a preschool program) is located. There are a bunch of "homeless" people that hang out in their parking lot all day and were coming in a lot to use the bathroom, take the food donated to Head Start families, etc. and causing problems with the preschoolers there. They DO have to protect the children. And it was pretty scary when I was picking up my daughter and there was someone running from the police and he ran into the church. Fortunately I saw and pointed the police in the right direction(they thought they'd lost him). I don't know about the rest of the churches, but Plymouth needed to do it.

Dayle Gregg Hodges 9 years, 3 months ago

I worked at Plymouth nearly 20 years ago and it was not uncommon to find (presumably) homeless people sleeping in the pews and various other places even then. We handed out vouchers for food and gas to inividuals once a month; they never missed the day they were eligible again. We also had a problem with finding people (and their messes) in the restrooms. As the secretary I dealt with irate, irrational people on a daily basis. I am sure the employees of the downtown churches are breathing a sigh of relief..........

HermioneElliott 9 years, 3 months ago

I think that Machiavelli_mania is an airhead of the first water. No one with any common sense at all would go along with her plans. No one has the right to sleep in a church. I find it very difficult to believe these things really happened. Can we draw a line from these downtown churches and the open shelter? I believe that St. Johns is locked up tight after the last mass. Why would anyone believe that Jesus had a special spot in his heart for drunks who take advantage of others and hurt them while taking no responsibility for their action. As a child I was taught, there is a consequence for every action. Help someone who is in a state of mind to be helped. Being sweet tempered to a drunk who doesn't care if you live or die is not workable in the long run.

igby 9 years, 3 months ago

Didn't Jesus, refuse to let the man who had a 1000 legions in him follow them? After Jesus cast out the 1000 legions into a heard of pigs, the pigs killed themselves by running into the sea. The man wanted to follow Jesus, back across the sea. However, Jesus, he let these demon legions speak, and they told him a thing or two about this man and how these demons came to be in him I suppose, Lol. Oink, Oink! Lol.

Ever time I see "caveman Joe" on the street jabbering his vulgar rant of profanity, I think of the 1000 poor pigs and how they must of felt that day.

Unworthy of pigs for sure! Lol.

Keep them out if you have too.

Chris Ogle 9 years, 3 months ago

Some kind of world we live in…. some that need help refuse it, and some that don't need help demand it.

Then of course…. we have those who destroy everything in sight…… which only makes things worse for those that are working to better themselves. What can you do….. call Jesus??

OldEnuf2BYurDad 9 years, 3 months ago

No where in scripture does Jesus or anyone else in the Bible carry on a dialogue with an intoxicated person. The closest you'll come to that in the Bible is the demon possessed, to whom Jesus responded by promptly "sobering them them up" (so to speak) before really doing much else.

Drunks should be turned away until they can at least sober up and provide some predictability (but isn't that what we've been saying about the homeless for years?).

Chris Ogle 9 years, 3 months ago

OldEnuf2BYurDad (Anonymous) says… No where in scripture does Jesus or anyone else in the Bible carry on a dialogue with an intoxicated person.

That's okay old,,, I will talk to myself,,,, (just kidding)

Bob Forer 9 years, 3 months ago

We can all thank Pee Wee Loring for the need for security.

WHY 9 years, 3 months ago

This story makes me mad. It is all of the dumb religious people who give handouts to the homeless so they will stay around. Then they use church funds to keep themselves safe and subject the rest of us to deal with the problem that their misplaced sense of morality created.

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