Whether it's a shooter on site or a flood, the Interfaith Federation of Greater Baton Rouge wants houses of worship to be ready to handle any disaster situation.
So the organization is hosting training for congregations from 9 a.m. to noon Nov. 5 at the East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, 7711 Goodwood Blvd.
The free training, which includes materials, will be provided by the Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. Preregistration is requested at ifedgbr.com or by calling (225) 267-5600.
"It is important for leaders of congregations to plan for the safety of those who gather for worship and other activities. It cannot be assumed that places of worship will be respected," said the Rev. Robin McCullough-Bade, executive director of the federation.
The training will help prepare houses of worship for such events as an active shooter, arson, floods or hurricanes. It will also provide an overview of information to include in a congregation's Continuity of Operations Plan, which can help reduce risks as well as respond to a disaster.
"An initial training was held in the spring. It was an eye-opening event as we considered the unthinkable — intentional harm to one of our houses of worship. As people left that event, they asked when the session could be repeated so others from their congregation could attend," McCullough-Bade said. "Unfortunately this training is needed because of the times in which we live. Hatred is at loose.”
She said each congregation is invited to send a representative or a team to the training.
"Although some of the tips apply to all situations, each house of worship has unique features to consider," McCullough-Bade said. "This training will also provide suggestions to customize your unique space.”
Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said the faith-based community plays "a tremendous role in providing not only spiritual strength for our community, but also supports social services, community engagement and civic responsibility. Partnering with them to better prepare their leadership and congregations in the event of a natural or man-made catastrophe is part of the continued resilience of our parish. I am tremendously grateful for the Interfaith Federation for their work in this area.”