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Safety and Security

Safety and Security

Dear Winter Park Family, 

One of my early challenges is discernment. How soon in my journey with you as pastor do I introduce ideas for change? I have heard for years that you do not touch the office furniture for a year. Change, with Christian congregations, should be slow and methodical. The sentiment is logical. However, where is the scientific data to support this principle? It is purely anecdotal. I sense that, in some situations, if the one-year formula for change is followed significant opportunities for growth will be forfeited. In the case of Winter Park Baptist, our congregation has embraced new pastoral leadership (thank you!) and eagerly anticipates our new chapter together. In light of all of the above, I seek your prayers. Please pray that God will grant me the discernment needed to strike this delicate balance. 

One area, within the life of our church, where I have decided to make an early move is safety and security on our campus. At the conclusion of my first church council meeting in July, I told our church leadership that I found it curious that a church our size, in a city our size, has no strategic plan for security when we gather for all functions, but especially Sunday morning worship services and small groups. I soon discovered that this is an issue that has been much discussed in the past. Whew! The risk of introducing an idea for an early change turned out to be not so risky. 

Since the July church council meeting much movement has taken place around the issue of safety and security on our grounds. A group from our church met with a group of lovely folks from Bnai Israel – the Jewish synagogue here in Wilmington. They have experienced much success, accompanied by much hard work, applying for and receiving grants which have enabled them to have the financial resources needed to secure their building and grounds. We learned much from our time with them. And the folks from Bnai Israel are more than happy to continue to assist us as we journey forward. In addition, the sheriff’s department as well as the Wilmington police department have come to our campus and provided us with a risk assessment free of charge. Indeed, we are so grateful for our public safety officials. 

As a result of the above activity, church leadership has decided to purchase, in partnership with our preschool, safety and security computer software that can adequately support the addition of cameras, and door locks, and monitors as we are able to afford them or as we receive grant money. The cost to the church is $4000. I am pleased that one immediate improvement we receive with this minimal investment is the ability to fully lock down the preschool area. All doors that grant access to the preschool area will soon have magnetic locks and require a fob to enter. 

This current attention to safety and security has also resulted in other small but significant developments during Wednesday night Bible study and weekday office hours. As you enter for Wednesday night Bible study, you are greeted by a church staff minister – Allison, Mike, or Clif. This person opens and closes the door for you. S/he also waits for about ten minutes after the Bible study begins and then locks the door. A phone number is provided for entry if someone arrives late. Also, we have restarted the use of our security camera and magnetic lock at the main office door during the week. I am pleased with these developments and sense that our congregation is safer than before. 

The purpose of “Paul’s Perspective” this week is simply to make you aware of our current emphasis on the safety and security of our people. And I write to ask for your assistance. Of course, all the magnetic locks in the world do little good if doors are propped open. And, for us to maximize safety measures put in place, we need our people to be observant when on grounds. If you see something that does not look right, please make someone aware if you are not comfortable pursuing the situation. If it is an obvious danger, please call 911. 

We all agree that it is unfortunate we must be concerned about such things as an active shooter or otherwise dangerous people. Fortunately, the odds are in our favor that nothing like this will happen. And things that have happened, such as strangers getting into the building, have not resulted in any harm. Nonetheless, it is imperative that we prepare just in case the unspeakable occurs. Therefore, we need to develop a culture of safety and security within our congregation. 

Will you help? 

In Christ, 

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