First Congregational Church, Boulder formed a Safe Church Task Force in November, 2017 to address issues of safety for our congregants. Our mission was to improve safety for congregants and staff, while maintaining our culture of being an open and welcoming church. The committee convened first on November 28th, 2017 to plan out an agenda for areas of concern, and we’ve met monthly since January, 2018. Members of the committee represented the moderators, staff, Board of Management, Board of Spiritual Life, Christian Education, and the Welcoming Committee. Specifically, the members included Larry Dansky, Karen Cumbo, Bob Mathias, Julie Griffits, Charley Rastle, Kathy Minter, and Deborah Voss. Our approach was to address many issues, including development of an Emergency Operations Plan (EOP), address concerns such as medical, weather, fire, and active shooter emergencies, discuss training of staff and interested congregants, and child safety.
In addition to meeting regularly, our work involved:
- Development of an Emergency Operations Plan (EOP). Much of this work was done by Karen Cumbo. Using materials already provided by FEMA for places of worship and the instructions previously printed in the usher’s manual, Karen developed a draft EOP which has been modified from input by committee members and suggestions from fire and police officials. Our 9th version is now complete.
- Church walk-arounds. The committee performed safety walk-arounds with David Kaufman (police community officer), Kim Scott (Life Safety Educator, Boulder Fire Department), and Tony Chirikos, representing Safe Systems (our safety monitoring partners). Valuable information was obtained, and recommendations were considered by the committee.
- Training of staff and congregants. Officer Kaufman conducted a de-escalation training session, and will be scheduled to repeat this training and offer an active shooter training this Fall.
- Development of a communications plan for emergencies. Multiple possible solutions were discussed to address the concern of alerting people in one area of the church (such as the educational wing) about emergencies occurring in other areas (sanctuary). We will be incorporating a system of group texts for such an emergency.
The following is a list of recommendations made by the committee that have been completed or are in the process of completion. All recommendations were brought to the Board of Management and/or Church Council.
- Closets in Plymouth Hall will be kept locked.
- Cubbies in the classrooms should be closed and doors locked for safety.
- A de-escalation training session was conducted by David Kaufman, Community Relations Office of the Police Department.
- Signs will be posted at each entrance to the building stating “NO FIREARMS ALLOWED; This is in keeping with our Just Peace Covenant”.
- Our security team (arranged through Gibbons-White) now patrol inside and outside the building each night.
- Evacuation signage will be posted in all rooms of the building.
- More fire extinguishers will be purchased for the sanctuary.
- Our EOP has been developed and will be available for all to review. A one-page summary will be produced for easy access by congregants and persons leasing space in the building.
- A Safety Team, responsible for leading our congregation in responses to emergencies, has been developed. All members will be adequately trained.
We are interested in any feedback we can get from the congregation. Please contact any of the members of the task force with any questions.