St. Matthews Baptist Church
- Church with 30 doors
- Community Center with 5 doors
- 8,000 member congregation
- 40 staff members
For decades St. Matthew’s Baptist Church had been a small country church in southern New Jersey with about 150 members. But in 1994, just seven years after The Rev. Dr. Raymond M. Gordon Sr., became the senior pastor, St. Matthew’s completed a new 65,000-square-foot church on eight acres of ground, with a sanctuary seating 2,000. In 1998, the church added a Family Life Center, including a gym, recreation center, and an education wing.
In 2004, the church built a freestanding Community Center across the parking lot, on the site of the original church. The Community Center houses 26 classrooms, a computer lab with 40 flat-screen computers, and a multipurpose room with a stage. Today St. Matthew’s has nearly 8,000 members, 25 associate ministers, 60 deacons, and 40 employees.
The old church had a traditional alarm system and key locks. “When we built the bigger church, we had a lot more equipment and expensive furniture,” says Lorna Darby, the Chief Financial Officer at St. Matthew’s. “The pastor wanted more control over who is in the church at different hours,” Ms. Darby notes. “Even during the day we don’t want people to walk in.”
The Keri Solution
The church first installed Keri access control equipment in the mid 1990s on about three doors, working with Butch McHale at JC Magee Security in nearby Woodbury, New Jersey. As the church grew, so did the Keri access control system, and the original door controllers were upgraded. Today St. Matthew’s has PXL-250 Tiger Controllers with MS-3000 MicroStar and MS-5000 MiniStar readers covering the church building’s 30 perimeter doors. The five doors on the freestanding communty center are secured with PXL-500 Tiger Controllers.
For the community center, spurs from the original Keri Systems installation on the church were added while the building was being constructed. The PXL-500 Tiger Controllers on the community center integrated smoothly with the existing PXL-250 Tiger Controllers on the church building. The church and community center are configured as a single site with a single database in the Keri Systems DoorsTM software, which resides on Lorna Darby’s desktop computer.
Church members do not receive cards. Using Doors software, access is provided to them where and when it is needed, such as when services are conducted, classes are scheduled, or the Family Life Center gym is open.
Lorna Darby and Rev. Dr. Gordon appreciate the convenience and simplicity of the Keri system.” What I like most is that you can individualize access, and you can change it easily. You can deny some people access while allowing others, so some people have access to some doors and not others,” says Ms. Darby. “When our membership has something on a Sunday, I can set the doors to let them come in for a certain number of hours. Or when there’s a class going on, I can pick and choose which doors they can use.”
Expensive equipment is protected as well. “The computer lab is all windows, so you can see in to everything. And because it’s brand new, we didn’t want people just walking through there,” she notes.
Nowhere is access control more important to a church than the trustee room, where cash is counted. Especially with a church this size, the offerings on a Sunday morning can be substantial. “The Keri system allows only the four people who do the counting to be in the room. And we can time their access,” Darby says.
Before the Keri system was installed, the church doors were unlocked during the day, so members could enter at any time. Now, the doors are locked and only staff with Keri card access can enter. Members and others must ring a bell, Darby says, and the staff allows entry by pushing a button. How did the church membership respond to the security upgrades in the new facilities? Laughs Darby, “The only time people complain is when no one answers the bell.”