by Amy Malterer, Director of Operations
How does a church welcome the community with open and loving arms, yet remain vigilant about protecting the welfare of those who come to worship? Unfortunately, this question has become all too relevant after several high-profile church shootings, and no church should be unprepared because of a “this would never happen here” mindset. In an effort to take a proactive approach, Messiah has been working to improve our policies and procedures around all aspects of safety and security. Here’s what we’ve been up to so far in 2018:
- Implementation of a secure check-in system for children. On Sunday mornings, every child attending MessiahKIDS is given a nametag that includes a unique alphanumeric code. Parents receive a security label with the matching code and are required to show the tag to their child’s teacher at pick-up time. Access to the kids ministry area is restricted to staff, volunteers, kids, and their parents during the morning.
- Policy Updates. This year we are revising the following policies: Child Protection Policy, Emergency Procedures Policy, and Building Security Policy. When the revised drafts are approved by Messiah’s Executive Ministry Team, the final copies will be posted on our website. Some portions of the security policy are for internal use only and are not made public.
- Security Forum at Messiah. Last month, Messiah hosted a meeting with the business managers of several other LCMS churches in St. Charles County to discuss security. The guest speaker was Rick Goins, a Protective Security Advisor with the Department of Homeland Security. In addition to an active shooter presentation, we spent time talking about general campus security and finding ways to reduce our overall risk.
- Police Presence on Sunday Morning. Beginning August 5, we will have a uniformed officer from St. Charles County Police Department on our campus from 8:00am-12:00pm every Sunday morning. The church leadership discussed several options and agreed that using uniformed professional security is the safest and most effective way to prevent any threats to our people and our property. This is a one-year contract; we will be evaluating this service throughout the year.
We’ve made a good start this year, and we will continue this work as we begin the next ministry year. One of the goals in this upcoming year is to form a Messiah Safety and Security Team to be present during worship and other special events. We’re looking for a group of volunteers with experience in emergency preparedness, law enforcement, and medical training. Protecting the welfare of everyone in our building on Sunday morning also involves readiness for events such as medical emergencies or natural disasters. These types of events are far more likely to actually happen, making preparedness all the more important.
If you’d like to be a part of this group, or if you have any questions about safety and security at Messiah, please get in touch with Amy Malterer, Director of Operations, at firstname.lastname@example.org