The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has updated its guidelines to help its leaders and members remain safe while on Church property. “Changing conditions around the world” are the impetus of this update, the Church’s Presiding Bishopric wrote in a letter to Church leaders.
“These guidelines are meant to help educate leaders and members on how to increase safety at Church buildings and activities,” says the letter signed by Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé and his counselors, Bishop Dean M. Davies and Bishop W. Christopher Waddell. “We invite leaders to discuss them in ward and stake councils and to use them to teach members, as needed, to address local concerns. Leaders should apply these guidelines appropriately and be aware of local laws.”
The guidelines direct Latter-day Saints to rely on local law enforcement in emergencies and suggest several practices members can implement to increase safety. These include being aware of one’s surroundings, staying calm, extending friendship and respect to every visitor, not being alone in a Church building and following the promptings of the Holy Ghost for guidance and safety. The guidelines also help leaders respond better in moments when a worship service is being disrupted by an individual or group.
The guidelines conclude with counsel on how to respond to an active shooter or other active assailants. These instructions are taught by law enforcement and security industry experts as the most appropriate response to such a situation. Leaders and members are instructed to run, hide or fight, depending on the circumstance:
Run. Flee immediately if a safe path is available. Move quickly to the safest exit and away from the building to a safe location. Exit quietly, without drawing the assailant’s attention. Adults are to ensure that all children are supervised and accounted for. Do not return to the building or to an office or classroom for personal items. Do not carry anything that could be mistaken for a weapon by responding law enforcement.
Hide. If you are unable to escape safely, hide out of sight of the assailant’s view. If possible, close, lock and barricade the doors to the classroom, office or other room where you are hiding. Turn out the lights, silence mobile phones, and keep low to the floor and away from windows. If there is an exchange of gunfire between law enforcement and the assailant, everyone in the building is to stay in their barricaded rooms until instructed otherwise by law enforcement.
Fight. As a last resort, if there is no time to run or hide, fight back against the assailant. Use anything available as a weapon, and fight to stop the assailant. If others are present, organize to defend yourselves.
See the updated guidelines documents for more detail:
United States and Canada: Security Guidelines for Church Meetings and Events
International Areas: Security Guidelines for Church Meetings and Events
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.