Churches, temples, synagogues have one thing in common. They are beacons of hope, redemption, and forgiveness within a community. The glue that binds a community to some and a threat and target to others. That is why, when there is an act of violence against any religious group or place of worship, the act is especially horrific. With the holiday season approaching and the 2023 wars in Israel and Ukraine ongoing, houses of worship are going to be both places of refuge, a place of hope for communities, and a target for those who want to damage and hurt those who worship. A higher emphasis needs to be placed on religious security,. now more than ever, to ensure that these places remain beacons of hope.
Nehemiah 4:15-16: “When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his own work. From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah.” The argument is made at times that God is the only security that a place of worship needs. While God is a vitally important part of the equation, using the tools available to us to protect our people is biblical. Here are a few other ways that our churches can protect our members.
1. Create a congregation security council to plan for worst-case scenarios. Identify those within your congregation who have a military, security, or first responder background and include their input. They can help identify security concerns and act as the first line of defense in an emergency.
2. Install an access control system. After the services start, visitor entry can be controlled and during non-service hours, only approved patrons will have building access.
3. Draw attention to emergency exits. In an emergency you want people to know which direction to go. There may be chaos and confusion. Parents will be trying to get towards their children, there will be those helping the elderly, and others still running in panic. Identify these on your Sunday bulletin, and point them out at the beginning of services.
4. Install high quality Surveillance Cameras. Installing security cameras on the outside of the building and using a member of the congregation with a background in security to monitor the cameras will deter initial crime and provide evidence in the event of a security breach. Monitoring the cameras a few times a week, when the congregation is present, will help identify anyone who may be a potential risk towards your members.
5. Talk to your members. Keep them informed about any threats and remind them of your strong leadership to keep them secure. It will alleviate fears to know the steps that are being taken, but it can also draw awareness for those that believe that it won’t happen to them and remind them to come forth if they ever feel threatened or suspicious.
Violence happens and too often it happens at places of worship. Creating a multi level approach to ensure your members are safe is the best approach to protecting your congregation. CFA Security & Low Voltage has helped various churches, synagogues, mosques and religious centers protect their most valuable and vulnerable assets, their people. Contact our security professionals to discuss your specific needs at 770-864-7891 or reach out by email anytime at email@example.com