The Pittsburgh Shooting and Peace of Mind During Worship

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Recently I was asked to be an usher at church. No real job description was given and the second time I was on duty, my partner never showed up. The church secretary was not aware he was away on vacation. I think she just publishes it as part of her workload. I’m not even sure who organizes these lists? Who do I contact if due to illness or something else, I can’t come in at the last minute?

I’ve often wondered, and observed, that our church doors are left unattended shortly after greeters and ushers take their seats to worship. I hear the light tone as people enter and exit the doors. I look around me and look for my escape routes. Much like the boring airline announcements (which are more often than not ignored), I still want to be ready to know my way out. Would short info blurbs in the bulletin be helpful, from time to time?

Much like the boring airline announcements (which are more often than not ignored), I still want to be ready to know my way out.

Last month’s incident, at a Pittsburgh synagogue has led me to wonder, “Do greeters and ushers need more training?” What if someone with the wrong motives were to walk through the church doors? Should the ushers or greeters have someone on duty for the whole service? Should there be a protocol in place? Should I carry a cell phone? Who are my first and second called numbers? How much physical strength should I, a retired person, have to be able to subdue any one? Should the doors be locked (from the outside at least)? Is our church custodian, whom I see around the back, from time to time, officially on duty? Who informs the Sunday School and what training do they have for such an eventuality? Where’s the first aid equipment? Is the side door an escape route? Do we need to formalize this role? Do we need to budget for this? Do we need to send volunteers to extensive security training?

Should the ushers or greeters have someone on duty for the whole service? Should there be a protocol in place? Should I carry a cell phone? Who are my first and second called numbers? 

I did suggest some of this to our Church Council, but was told it would be impossible to comply with some of my suggestions. We do have a Safety Committee, which I hope, will look at some of these concerns.

Recently, I attended some training with the BC Crime Prevention Association. We were shown a pretty graphic video which demonstrates some key things we could all learn and prepare for in the case of a deadly attack. (It has a page full of helpful tools!) Yes, I know it’s graphic, but it is the reality today. Take a look below. 

Just saying, just thinking that this could happen to anyone! I just hope to be better informed so I can enjoy the worship fully.

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