Does your place of worship have an inclement weather plan?

The news scrolls on the local television stations are full of closures for tonight and Sunday morning, as much of the mid-west is being hit with severe winter weather. Ice has shut down many roads in counties around me and the local emergency management agency in my county has increased the travel advisory to “essential travel only.” However, this type of severe winter weather is really not that uncommon around here. Despite that fact, it amazes me how some places of worship are either unprepared or just plain reckless when it comes to dealing with the way severe winter weather impacts them. 

Many churches will cancel events and services when severe winter weather may put the lives of their members and visitors in danger. However, a few justify doing nothing by saying things like, “We don’t cancel services. We just let people decide for themselves if they should get out.” That sounds fair until you consider that many of those same religious groups have stressed the importance of regularly attending all services and events. The natural conclusion for many devout members is that if the group doesn’t cancel, they are expected to risk their safety by getting out in dangerous conditions. I have watched this result in car accidents while traveling to and from church, and elderly members severely injuring themselves from falls in the church parking lot. 

Protecting our places of worship and the people who attend them goes beyond things like preparing for active shooters. When should you cancel services and events, how do you communicate that information to your members, and what do you do if severe weather occurs during an event, are also a key part of protecting our places of worship from threats. Not all threats wear ski masks and carry firearms, some threats are simply a ¼” of ice on a church parking lot.

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