We no longer have the luxury of thinking of houses of worship as safe places free from violence. One only needs to remember the four precious little girls killed while attending Sunday school when their Birmingham church was bombed 50 years ago this September, or those who attended the youth performance at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church when a gunman fired into the crowd killing two and wounding seven, or the six killed and wound at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.
In addition to violent attacks, the gathering places can also experience natural disasters – hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, or earthquakes.
The Department of Homeland Security has issued a guidebook of best practices to consider in developing an emergency response plan for houses of worship.
Congregations and their leaders can find the guide at: