Sunday marked the one year anniversary of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, where eleven people lost their lives. Now, there’s an effort underway to better protect Pennsylvanians in their houses of worship.
Scott Schul, Senior Pastor at Grace Lutheran Church says they have been talking about better security at churches for years and they’re glad Harrisburg is now talking about it too.
“I’m excited about the possibility of a grant, because though some things don’t carry a price tag, many others do, doors, security systems, camera systems, all of those carry a price tag,” Schul, said.
Pastor Schul, is referring to senate bill 859, which was amended and passed last week in the state senate.
It would set aside $5 million dollars for faith-based non profits to apply for security grant funds.
A surveillance system, metal detectors and active shooter training are examples of what the money could go towards.
Aaron Henning, Pastor of State College Alliance Church says the one year anniversary of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting still hits close to home.
“It’s doubly sad, when you see places where people are gathered together to try to make a difference and to try to be light, salt and light, in the world where they come under the attack of that brokenness,” Henning, said.
Pastor Schul says the balance churches face is to not make their place of worship feel like a war zone, but to still make sure it is safe and protected.
“We live in different times,” Schul, said. “There’s a new normal now and everybody has to be vigilant and safe and prudent.”
Not only would places of worship qualify for grants.
They would also be available to organizations like faith-based food banks or daycare centers.
The next step is for the Pennsylvania house to look at senate bill 859. If they pass it, it will then go to Governor Wolf to sign.