Pay attention to church security
April 21 2010 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

Churches once were sacred spaces which even thieves were reluctant to break into although there is often valuable equipment inside.

The unthreatened sanctuary of a sanctuary once was a space apart from the world. No worldly threats or violence intruded. Now we remember mass killings in churches and too many individual deaths and threats to be innocent anymore.

Acid from the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandals has burned through our own lead shields to reveal that abusers do not target Catholic churches only. All churches which are relatively open and trusting and are gathering places for large numbers of children are targets for abusers and thieves.

This issue of the Biblical Recorder carries an emphasis on church security. Most stories were written for us by Ken Walker, who covered the broad bases to warn that the days of innocence and of simple trust are gone. As a church you owe it to every member to offer a safe place for their children and a safe place to worship.

Churches need to conduct background checks on every person who works with anyone under 18. Make it a standard operating procedure. And when you implement the rule, you’ll need to include your current workers, even if they’ve been doing the work a dozen years.

To those workers who take offense at being asked to undergo screening I say this: You know you’re innocent. The church knows you’re innocent. But you also know this policy is good for the church so just go through it and set a positive example.

There have been extremely rare instances of an armed security guard at a church limiting the destruction caused by an armed intruder. Should your church have armed security? Only you can decide that, but it would seem unlikely unless you are a large, high profile urban church.

A new thing I learned from Walker’s stories is that churches sometimes understate the value of their property when buying insurance, so that they pay a smaller premium. The effect is that such a church is underinsured and if a tragedy like a fire or storm occurs and destroys their facility, they may end up being only partially covered.

For instance, if your church would cost a million dollars to replace and you insure it only for a half million, the insurance company will pay you a half million. Your people are stuck at a very difficult time in your church life coming up with the other money.

Don’t scrimp on insurance. Consider parking lot security; lock the choir room doors; stop someone who looks out of place in your halls. It’s the times we live in.

Related stories
How do you keep people safe in church?
Editorial: Pay attention to church security
Background checks help avoid being sitting ducks
Safety: responsibility to take seriously
Network tracks crime in churches
Protection from liabilities
Current insurance can take sting from disaster
Crime prevention tips to detect, deter crime
For churches, how much risk is too much?   
4/21/2010 10:11:00 AM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 0 comments

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