Safety and Security in Places of Worship

Congregational Security and Safety Resources for Congregations and Communities

Written by Tom Pruski RN, MAPS, DMin for HMA Today Jan/Feb 2020

The Health Ministries Association annual conferences continue to offer timely information which helps all of us – faith community nurses, spiritual leaders, health ministers and others – to be prepared and face contemporary issues and challenges head on.  The 2019 Health Ministries Association conference was no exception. The topic in one of the 2019 HMA conference keynotes addressed congregational security and safety.

The topic of safety and security at a place of worship may not be at the forefront of many our minds because we feel like our worship spaces are a safe and sacred place.  Indeed, our congregations are places of safety, security, and refuge.  However, due to the increasing number of shootings at places of worship and in our society throughout the United States, congregations and health ministries are starting to develop and prepare for possible events or risks which may breach their safety and security.  The keynote presenter helped all of the attendees to raise our consciousness in dealing with this unfortunate new reality that we face in our world.
In a follow up to the keynote presenter, I contacted the Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to see if they had more resources for congregations in helping them to prepare and assess their safety and security risk on a number of fronts.  The Public Affairs Specialist of the Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives provided me with several different resources that I would like to share with you.

  1. Congregations can contact their Department of Homeland Security Protective Security Advisor (PSA) for a preparedness and security review of your congregation or community’s facility and activities.  For more information or to contact your local PSA, e-mail
  2. Resources/workshops are available from the federal government to help prepare your community and congregation for the possibility of a disaster — whether natural or man-made — from the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS). Click on each link to access the specific resource listed:

I share these resources with all of you in hopes that this information will help your congregation, organization, healthcare facility, and community are better prepare for the future.

Tom Pruski RN, MAPS, DMin
Heal the Sick Program
Wesley Theological Seminary – Institute for Community Engagement
900 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: 202-706-6843

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