HUNTSVILLE — It is a shame, Scott County Sheriff Ronnie Phillips says, that it is a conversation that even has to be had — the idea of parishioners who are legally licensed to carry handguns arming themselves as they head off to Sunday School with their families.

And, yet, it’s a conversation that is taking place — not just in Scott County but in many communities across Tennessee, in the wake of yet another incident of worship-place violence. It’s a conversation that drew an estimated crowd of 150 people to White Rock Baptist Church last week for a church safety seminar conducted by the Sheriff’s Department, and a conversation that is leading a number of churches to explore the idea of safety teams among their congregations.

“I would’ve never dreamed this 15 years ago, that we would have to sit down at a local church and have a safety meeting over what’s going on in this world today,” Phillips said. “It’s a shame that this is where we are.”

And, yet, Phillips said he recommends that churches throughout Scott County form safety teams.

“I would highly recommend for churches to form a safety team. Absolutely,” he said.

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The complete story can be found in next week's print edition of the Independent Herald.