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Texas shooting raising SWFL church safety concerns

Posted at 6:54 PM, Nov 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-06 18:59:14-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Churches across the nation are looking into safety precautions during their services after, Devin Kelley, shot and killed 26 people at First Baptist Church in Sutherland, Texas. The 26-year-old left many Christian churches devastated, leaning on their faith for support.

“Hate only brings more hate. And light is really the only thing that can drive away darkness,” said Pastor Kyle Jackson from Next Level Church in Fort Myers.

Jackson says in his nine years as a Next Level Pastor, safety has always been one of their top priorities. In fact, the church has a safety team stationed at nearly every corner of the building on days of service.

"They get together on a regular basis, they train together. They are background checked, they are resourced, and they are in every location of our church."

For larger services, such as ones on holidays, Next Level teams up with the Fort Myers Police Department that helps direct traffic into the parking lot. Jackson says they always think about security from "parking lot to parking lot."

Still, smaller churches in the area may not have this level of resources. The Pastor explained Next Level is doing their part to help the community as much as they can and one of the ways they do so is by offering free security training sessions.

"We do offer that to smaller churches. We want all churches to be safe. Not just big ones or medium sized ones, even down to the ones that just have a few attenders.”

While the safety is down the "T" at Next Level, the church still feels the grief caused by Kelley in the Texas shooting. Jackson tells Fox 4 that even in great difficulty, the Christian Church will find a way to forgive.

“If the church can’t extend forgiveness to people when this happens, then nobody can...We should all be able to worship and believe in what we believe in peace and then offer forgiveness when there’s mistakes made on the other side.”