Safety top-of-mind as America returns to worshipJuly 20, 20213 min read
Church Mutual study finds physical violence and natural disasters top worshippers’
non-COVID safety concerns
MERRILL, Wis. – As America’s pandemic recovery efforts progress and more organizations open their doors, safety remains paramount for houses of worship and their members. According to data from Church Mutual Insurance Company, S.I. (a stock insurer)1, worshippers’ top safety concern beyond COVID-19 exposure (63%), is the threat of armed intruders/physical violence (17%). This is followed closely by natural disasters/acts of nature (16%), cybersecurity/data breach (14%) and sexual misconduct (9%).
These findings are the latest from Church Mutual’s March 2021 “COVID, Safety and Security Study2,” which surveyed approximately 1,200 Americans. Encouragingly, these concerns have compelled many houses of worship to create safety plans. Of those surveyed, 59% said their house of worship has a plan in place to address COVID-19 exposure. Nineteen percent indicated a similar plan for armed intruders. This was followed closely by 18% of houses of worship having a plan for natural disasters, 13% for cybersecurity and 10% for sexual misconduct.
“Given the last 18 months, it’s not surprising that COVID-19 is the top safety concern for most American worshippers,” said Rich Poirier, president and CEO of Church Mutual. “However, as vaccinations expand and recovery continues, it’s critical that houses of worship prepare for other challenges that may impact their members’ safety. Based on our research, we’re encouraged to see this is happening to some extent. We believe there still is room for improvement.”
In 2020, pre-pandemic, Church Mutual found that armed intruders/physical violence (51%) topped worshippers’ list of safety concerns, followed by sexual misconduct (18%), natural disasters/acts of nature (17%) and cybersecurity/data breach (14%). At that time, 42% had plans in place to address one or more of its members’ safety concerns.
“Our nation is on the cusp of a return to normalcy and a renewed era in worship that’s strengthening relationships with faith,” Poirier said. “People are connecting with what’s important to them and it’s critical they can do so in an environment that’s safe and secure.”