In the lobby of Allen AME church in Tacoma, a glass sculpture tells the story of what happened the last time the congregation grieved over a mass shooting a church
"When the nine died it had a rippling effect across the country," said pastor Anthony Steele.
He’s referring to the mass shooting in an AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina that claimed the lives of nine parishioners. Steele and his church commissioned the glass sculptors to make a piece honoring the lives who were lost and the survivors.
“Right now, the churches are under attack,” he said. “You're finding that pastors are having to come up with answers to questions that no one wants to deal with.”
The questions he’s referring to are around mass shootings in churches. In the wake of the most recent church shooting that claimed the lived of 25 people in South Texas, Steele revisits the discussion.
"We're beginning to have even more conferences and sharing of notes as to how to handle active shooters in our congregations," Steele said.
But he's says he's looking for community leaders to take a firm position around our discussion of mass shootings.
"This speaks directly to domestic terrorism. When people stop going to church, because they're terrified then you have terrorism,” said Steele.
Next week Steele will travel to meet with pastors to discuss safety measures for congregations to implement. Steele says that also includes discussing and understanding differences within a congregation.
"How do we engage those parishioners that may be belligerent, that may have mental disease or have other motives for coming into the sanctuary?” Steele asked. “Prayerfully nothing ever happens, but it’s that one day that something happens, and you're not prepared, that's when it's a major problem."