GASTON COUNTY, N.C. -- With religious communities on edge after the mass shooting at a Texas church, Gaston County law enforcement is now arming places of worship with a plan.
"Giving the churches the tools on how to create their own system to the level they want," said Sheriff Alan Cloninger.
The Gaston County Sheriff's Office is not the typical place for churchgoers to congregate on a Wednesday night. However, with the Texas church shooting top of mind, more than 100 local pastors and parishioners received a different kind of word.
"Know that it can happen anytime anywhere," said Mike Criswell, Reverend at the Love Baptist Memorial Church. "Going to protect them at all cost."
Rev. Criswell knows the unthinkable can happen anywhere. His course of action is already in place.
"We have men at our church that have concealed carry permits and we're going to train them how to use that weapon and do some scenarios that someone would happen to come into the church that we would be ready and know what to do," said Criswell.
In Mecklenburg County, dozens of places of worship are doing the same. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has trained at least 75 churches already on what to do if a gunman shows up.
Active shooter training classes offered by CMPD are full through January.
"I signed up right away to keep my children and myself safe when we're at church," said a Gaston County churchgoer.
© 2017 WCNC.COM