Do you remember when you could go to the airport to say goodbye to a friend as they walked down the ramp to the plane? Or when you could enter a court house without walking through a metal detector? Or you could take your children to school without any hesitation or thought about their safety? Or…the list could go on and on.
The world has changed. In fact, it keeps changing day by day. While good folks are working faithfully to create a positive spirit of transformation, others are continually looking for ways to be disruptive.
I am writing this article the day after the Boston Marathon bombing. It has captured our attention. But it is just the most recent experience that has dominated the news and created yet another layer of deep concern. Typically, my Looking Forward article would focus on a theme that hopefully would provide some positive encouragement within our devotional thinking. But things have changed. In response, I want to tell you what is happening here at your church as we continually face our changing world.
A few months ago, we created a small team of well equipped individuals and invited them to take a close look at safety and security issues here at the church. They faithfully started evaluating the safety of our children in the Little Blessings Preschool. But they also began to look at systems and plans that are in place or could be initiated to provide for a wide variety of emergency situations. It is always better to think ahead than to be caught from behind!
The team evaluated our readiness to deal with medical emergencies, natural disasters, community based incidents, and in-house events that may require evacuation or some other immediate response. I am very thankful for the work that this team has been able accomplish in a short time. They explored options, met with other congregations, and gained expertise so they could make recommendations to our Church Council.
One of the initial needs was related to communications. We have an extensive network of classrooms for children that are used daily for the preschool, after school programming, and our typical Sunday morning schedule. We needed to be able to communicate with those classrooms so children and adult leaders could be secure. In response to that need, the team installed an intercom system that now connects the office, the sanctuary, the kitchen, and every classroom. One button will communicate a need to everyone so all can respond appropriately.
There are several other layers of thoughtful systems and procedures that will come into play very soon. In the end, I want you to know that we cherish your children and your entire family. We are being diligent in creating the safest community possible. We all know there are limitations but there are also many solutions that will move us thoughtfully into the future so we can continue to learn, grow, and worship in freedom.
As always, I am looking forward to seeing you on Sunday! It is a great day to be invested in the Parker United Methodist Church!