These days the sanctity of a church is not exempt from disruption. And that’s why the Oconee Sheriff’s Office is getting pro-active in letting churches know about safety procedures and laws that can protect their worship services. “We used to say that certain things that happened in other places can’t happen here,” says Sgt. Mike McGowan, who provides information and meets with local churches to coordinate church safety meetings. “However, society has changed and churches need to understand the importance of being prepared before an event could happen.” McGowan has held safety meetings with Oconee churches to make them aware of issues that may arise—from how to protect church property from theft and answering questions about concealed weapon permit holder carrying firearms in churches. Section 16-17-520 of South Carolina law covers disruptions in services and entering premises while intoxicated and using profane language. The officer recommends churches consider safety teams. And, if anyone is interested in hosting a church safety meeting, contact McGowan at 864-638-2017.