Here in the Central Gulf Coast, the need to be prepared and ready to respond in the event of an emergency is always on the horizon. Careful delegation of roles and responsibilities and having a plan in place are key components to a congregation's vitality and ability to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the church, parishioners and surrounding community.

Emergency Preparedness Plans for Congregations

Preparedness Planning Guides for Congregations from Episcopal Relief and Development​ (ERD)
  • Bronze Level Plan - Gathers only the most basic information to use after a disaster.

  • Silver Level Plan - A more abbreviated version that collects less information.

  • The Comprehensive Preparedness Planning Guide -  Includes steps for inventorying, protecting and mobilizing physical and human assets; identifying vulnerable people; anticipating response activities, and testing the first steps of a response.

Other Examples: 

Helpful Information

  • How to Build a Church Preparedness Team  - A Sr. Warden shares the process of how he worked with his congregation to respond to emergencies and how they established a comprehensive preparedness plan and a church safety ministry (2 pages)

  • Disaster Responses:  Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest, NY - A case study after a violent act on church property; how church members worked to balance concerns about maintaining the church’s open and welcoming identity while ensuring the safety for all who use and visit their building.  (2 pages)

  • Church Insurance:  Acts of Violence against the Church –  An insurance company perspective; why it’s important to have plans in place to mitigate the risk of violence—and to be able to react appropriately and quickly in case something does happen.

  • Church Insurance:  Safety and Insurance Handbook for Churches – Distributed by CIC, this is a handy reference and guide around safety in your congregations.

More Resources

Get Going!!

  1. ​Look over plan development tools / examples including sample templates provided / linked in this message.  No one plan will answer all your questions but it is a good place to start.  Begin with the ERD Bronze plan at a minimum and build from there.

  2. Build a collaborative planning team.  Your planning team are usually composed of interested parishioners who have offered up their time and talents to this essential ministry. 

  3. Prioritize your risks & threats.  Ensure your dialogue includes most likely scenarios (it’s not just about hurricanes).  For example:

  • Medical Emergencies:  What happens if a parishioner faints during a service?

  • Fire Evacuation:  How do you exit / evacuate your building if the alarm goes off?

  • Hurricane / Flood:   Do you have copies of your insurance policy / phone numbers readily available

  • Disorderly / Violent person:  What do you do if someone acts in a threatening manner towards a staff member?
    4.  Involve your congregation / community.  Train other church leaders. Request your local law enforcement / fire department to provide an on-site security assessment.  Talk to the church next door; what have they done?

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Who to contact:

Disaster Preparedness & Response Coordinator: 

Deacon Tricia Spencer


Episcopal Relief & Development Diocesan Representative:

Eugene Johnston


Discipleship. Development. Discernment.