A message from General Counsel Mike Kirk as our prayers and lamentations continue
We like to think of our churches as places of safety and refuge. A place to commune with God and join in fellowship with our church community. Unfortunately, others view churches as targets. White supremacist Dylan Roof murdered nine people at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina in 2015. Recently a Las Vegas man with a grudge against Taiwan entered the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, California, and shot members and friends of the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church who were gathered at a celebratory luncheon.
It is unfortunate that church leaders must think about how to prevent such violence or how to respond to it if it happens. But sessions should discuss church safety. There are many resources available for churches, including the following:
- Guide for Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Houses of Worship (FEMA)
- Safety for Faith Based Events at Houses of Worship (Department of Homeland Security)
- Active Shooter Resources (FBI)
- Five Options for Survival (Brotherhood Mutual)
- Active Shooter (The Insurance Board)
- Developing an emergency plan for violence on church property (Creating Safe Ministries, PCUSA)
Congregations and mid councils should consider organizing a committee to discuss and make recommendations for safety policies and procedures.