Emergency Management to offer church security seminar

Published 8:25 pm Tuesday, June 5, 2018

In the madness of modern life, for many, church is a sanctuary. One’s house of worship can serve as a place of renewal, reflection and solace. Church can be a place of fellowship, comfort and abundant joy — a deeply personal and special place in one’s life.

Yet, not even the strongest church is immune to misfortune. Burglaries, fire, natural disaster, medical emergencies, financial peril — these are all realities of the world that can impact a church congregation.

In many cases, however, there are steps a church can take to prepare for and prevent these circumstances. Such preparations will be the topic of discussion during a church safety seminar hosted by Beaufort County Emergency Management on June 13.

“The goals, as I see them, are to start the thinking process on topics that may have never been considered previously, to provide handouts that will further the thinking process and provide contact information for further assistance and for the attendees to take what they learn back to their churches for further discussion,” Beaufort County Emergency Management Administrator Lisa Respess Williams said in an email.
Beginning at 6 p.m. at the Temple of Jesus Christ Family Center, the seminar will include perspectives from local leaders in the field of emergency services, as well as vendors from companies specializing in safety and security.

The evening’s presentations will kick off with a discussion of church safety and security with Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Kelly Cox and Washington Police and Fire Services Director Stacy Drakeford, followed by a brief discussion of security system options from ADS Security.

Glenn Mercer, operations chief of Beaufort County EMS, will follow with a talk on how congregations can plan and prepare for medical emergencies in the sanctuary. A vendor from Southeastern Medical Equipment will follow his talk.

Fire hazard awareness is the third scheduled topic of the evening, with Washington Fire Chief Robbie Rose tag teaming a talk with Beaufort County Fire Marshal Curtis Avery. A representative from Williams Fire & Sprinkler will conclude the talk.

Touching on severe weather and the unpredictable forces of Mother Nature, Chris Newkirk, Beaufort chief of fire/emergency management, will talk about preparing and responding to natural disasters. A follow-up discussion, with Steve Creech and David Jones, representing the Salvation Army and Red Cross, respectively, will illuminate the ways local volunteer organizations can help after a disaster.

The final discussion of the evening will discuss the financial risk and liabilities carried by churches, as well as methods of reducing such risk. Meredith Cutler, of Farm Bureau Insurance, will be the voice of knowledge on that topic.

While vendors and emergency services officials may not be able to answer all questions during the seminar, Williams says the purpose is to establish contacts to help churches move forward in their safety and security planning.

Community members from throughout Beaufort County are invited to attend the program, which is expected to last 2.5 hours. For more information on the seminar, contact Beaufort County Emergency Management at 252-946-2046.