Center for Interfaith Cooperation

Hoosiers of Many Faiths in Community

CIC hosts congregation emergency preparedness workshops

On August 22, the Office of Congressman Carson and the Center for Interfaith Cooperation hosted local faith leaders in the first of a series of Interfaith Emergency and Security Preparedness Workshops.  Organized with the help of local law enforcement agencies, the workshop presented best practices and tools to address security and emergency concerns as well as provide a space for discussion on how to build deeper relationship with law enforcement and other institutions of faith.

Next in the series will be September 26 from 2:00-4:00 pm. It will address “Active Shooter Awareness and Response.” If you’d like to attend, contact Kathy Souchet-Downey at 283-6516 or

Here are some notes from the presentation by Elia James

Interfaith Emergency and Security Preparedness Workshops:
How to prepare safety and emergency response plans

Elia James
Communications and Strategic Initiatives Manager

Bureau of Homeland Security
Emergency Management Agency

Workshop objectives

  • Encourage faith-based and community based organizations to work with emergency preparedness partners to train and exercise for all hazards.
  • Encourage best practices for developing an emergency management plan.
  • Encourage practices that integrate faith-based and community based organizations into existing emergency management training and exercising activities.

A “Whole Community Approach” – it takes the whole community working together to be resilient!

Introduction and Purpose

In collaboration with their local government and community partners, houses of worships can:

  • Plan for potential emergencies
  • Create House of Worship Emergency Operations Plans

Public Perspective in the face of Disaster

Your congregation already sees their Church as a safe haven; however, in times of a disaster, the general public could look to their closest church as a safe place for them and their family to seek refuge. Is your church prepared for this influx? What is your plan to keep everyone sheltered and your capabilities for providing food and water and for how long?  What about protecting and safeguarding the Church itself and its operations?

A safety and response plan will answer these questions and more.  It will prepare your Church to sustain itself and answer the call for help in a community’s most chaotic time because in certain disasters, there is little or no warning.

The Planning Process

  • Is flexible and can be adapted to accommodate a house of worship’s unique characteristics and situation.
  • Should involve collaboration with community partners-local emergency management staff, first responders, nongovernmental partners and public and mental health officials.

You should …

  • Form a Collaborative Planning Team
  • Understand the Situation
  • Determine Goals and Objectives
  • Plan Development (Identifying Courses of Action)
  • Plan Preparations, Review and Approval
  • Plan Implementation and Maintenance

planning process 1

Consider joining other Houses of Worship or nearby Houses of Worship to form joint emergency planning teams.

The Core Planning team should be made up of representatives of your House of Worship.  You may have first responders in your congregation.  The team should be small enough to permit constructive collaboration but large enough to ensure it is a true representation of the congregation.  Be sure to assign roles and responsibilities and determine a regular meeting schedule. Outcome: You have developed a planning team consisting of the proper stakeholders, have determined roles and responsibilities and a set schedule of meetings.

Know the types of emergencies likely to affect your area.

  • Probability or frequency of occurrence (i.e., how often it may occur)
  • Magnitude (i.e., the extent of expected damage)
  • Time available to warn occupants
  • Duration (i.e., how long the threat or hazard will be occurring)
  • Follow-on effects

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