Keeping an Open and Safe Church

One of the things we love about our church is that it does not lie fallow between Sundays. On any given day, there are all sorts of people in and out of the church–doing mission, cooking in the kitchen, getting help with healthcare insurance, recoding music, saving historical landmarks, dancing and creating art. It is an open, busy, vibrant center of the community

But recently, we have had an influx of people seeking assistance here at the church (more so than usual). With that has come a realization by some that we have two refrigerators and a freezer, along with various and sundry kitchen supplies that are generally unattended. We have caught at least one person trying to leave with bags of food–frozen and otherwise–and suspect that more than one person has been taking things, including a giant size bottle of Dawn.  Not all of our food and supplies belong to the church.  Our kitchen renters and our tenants store food here, so thefts affect their bottom line.

We can only offer so much assistance to any one person, and because of that, we have also had a few people get angry when we have not been able to do what they wanted us to do.  Generally our secretary, Kay, is the one who has to deal with this anger.

Because of all these things, at our stated session meeting Monday night, the session reluctantly made the decision to key the lock on the internal door of the fellowship hall (the one that enters into the pantry) to the same lock as all of our external doors and to keep that door locked during the week.

This will allow all of our tenants to maintain access to the kitchen and fellowship hall while giving us a little more control over who comes in and out. We will continue to keep the outside back door open so that clients of our tenants have access to their offices and gardeners have access to the tool shed and restrooms.

We will put a sign on the fellowship hall door with the church phone number and office hours, so that people who need to see the secretary or the pastor can do so.

This decision was not made lightly, and we will certainly continue to revisit how to balance being an open church with keeping our employees and tenants (and their food!) safe.

–Rev. Anne Russ

P.S. Look for our post tomorrow on best practices on how to respond to folks who ask for assistance at church

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