First UMC Dallas, NTC Host Safety Training For Area Churches

Safety training

Lee Allen Jr., resource officer for First UMC Dallas, speaks to the crowd. Seated on the stage are (left to right) Officer Crystal Morganfield, Larry Gordon, Mike Gurley and Harvey Letcher.

Event encourages developing an emergency response plan to address situations such as inclement weather, suspicious persons and active shooter

On July 7, First UMC Dallas and the North Texas Conference's Center for Connectional Resources co-hosted a safety training for more than 60 attendees. A panel of safety experts presented information and offered breakout sessions to help churches develop or refine their safety plans.

NTC Apportionments and Property Administrator Tracy Everson noted, “Emergency situations can arise anywhere, even at church. Churches need to think through different scenarios so their teams will know how to respond should the unthinkable happen.”

While it’s impossible to anticipate every contingency, having planned responses for a variety of emergency situations allows church leaders and members to feel more prepared. The goal of this event was to educate churches about the variety of incidents they might face.

“We wanted to equip and encourage churches to develop an emergency response plan to address a variety of situations, such as medical emergencies, inclement weather events, how to deal with suspicious persons and what to do in the event of an active shooter,” Everson said. “Having a written plan, the necessary training and the appropriate equipment is critical in an emergency.”

Wendy Westberg, business administrator for FUMC Dallas, said her goal with this training was to empower every person to walk away with the tools necessary to create a safety plan for their church, no matter how large or small the congregation may be. 

“Seeing folks from different churches collaborating and sharing challenges was impactful for me,” Westberg said, “as well as seeing Lee Allen, our resource officer, giving out his number to folks so they could call if they had additional questions. That’s the First Church way.”

Presenters were:

  • Lee Allen Jr., resource officer for First UMC Dallas and CEO of Brystle Executive Protection
  • Larry Gordon, executive director of security for Allied Universal Security Services
  • Mike Gurley and Harvey Letcher, founders of Teamworks Consulting, Inc.
  • Officer Crystal Morganfield, Dallas Police Department community policing officer for the Central Business District

“What was meaningful for me was to see seniors wanting to take part in creating a safe zone at their church,” said Allen, who helped implement a safety plan for the downtown church. “Seeing this makes me want to share my skill set and help train each group with real-life training scenarios.”

Thursday’s event included a Q&A session during lunch and presentations from a variety of vendors, including Wayne Sandy and Greg George from the NTC insurance provider, Marsh McLennan.

“The most powerful part of the day was hearing from a variety of experts – security professionals, law enforcement officers, equipment vendors, insurance experts and church personnel – with a wide range of experience and expertise,” Everson said. “Their wisdom and insight into different emergency scenarios were useful information for those in attendance, and many of the things they shared can be taken back to local churches and implemented quickly.”

The North Texas Conference intends to replicate this training in each district. If churches would like to be involved in hosting a future session, email Tracy Everson.

Published: Tuesday, July 12, 2022