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Local counselors see increased concerns about safety in places of worship

"Our community at large is on guard and certainly needs to find those ways in which they can self-soothe."

People of all faiths are still concerned about safety as the horrific shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh falls just days before the one-year anniversary of the Sutherland Springs Church massacre, the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history.

Mary Beth Fisk, CEO and executive director of The Ecumenical Center, said the San Antonio location as well as the Center for Hope and Healing in Wilson County have experienced an increase of calls since the tragedy last Saturday.

"It's tragic. There's such grief and loss, and this is not the normal way in which we have seen in our history that things happen, and they are becoming more and more prevalent," Fisk said. "Our community at large is on guard and certainly needs to find those ways in which they can self-soothe."

Fisk said the centers are also seeing more Sutherland Springs survivors and victims' family stepping forward and seeking counseling.

"It's a long process," Fisk said. "This is not a process that is completed in a month or three months or even a year -- the process of grieving and depression and anxiety and the trauma that was experienced by those who were in the church and the family members who lost their loved ones in this tragic event. It's a long process of healing."

On the city's north side, Congregation Agudas Achim has increased security for its sixth-annual Texas Kosher BBQ Festival.

"These are some difficult times that we're in right now and we want everyone to enjoy the food, enjoy the fun and not to worry about security, not to worry about their safety."

The local synagogue will not allow festival-goers to carry weapons into the event.

"There will be people form the sheriff's department who will be using a wand on every person who comes through the gate," Kelne said. "If they find a gun, people will be asked to take it away, put it in their car or something like that, even if they have concealed-carry license."

Kelne said they are expecting at least 3,000 people to attend this year and have made these changes to ensure the community's safety.

Fisk said for the many who are still trying to cope in the wake of these tragedies, it's vital for people to talk about it.

"In the event that something like this might occur, know your exits, have a strategy, plan and train. It's important for all groups that gather, whether it's a business or congregation," Fisk said, "but don't allow the fear to overcome you."

For more information on resources provided by the Ecumenical Center, click here.

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