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Houses of Worship / Congregation Preparedness

Houses of Worship / Congregation Preparedness

“Across the United States, Americans congregate in faith-based venues to worship, learn, play, and bond as a community. However, public gatherings are vulnerable, and adversaries may perceive houses of worship as attractive targets where they can inflict mass casualties, cause substantial psychological impacts, and draw extensive media coverage” (Department of Homeland Security, 2018). Studies estimate there are between 300,000 and 400,000 religious congregations in the U.S, with more than 150 million people who participate in activities held at these facilities. There are more than 230 denominational groups, many of which provide educational resources for their communities. Houses of Worship across the Country are taking steps to ensure the safety and security of their congregations, visitors, staff, and facilities. The resources below provide guidance on topics such as developing an emergency response plan, conducting basic facility assessments, and planning for events. Should this page not include what you are looking for, contact our office or consult one of the following federal agencies with resources for houses of worship / congregations:

  • Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) - The CISA is the Nation’s risk advisor, working with partners to defend against today’s threats and collaborating to build more secure and resilient infrastructure for the future.
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS) - The DHS has a vital mission: to secure the nation from the many threats we face. This requires the dedication of more than 240,000 employees in jobs that range from aviation and border security to emergency response, from cybersecurity analyst to chemical facility inspector.
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) - The FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror. In March 2003, FEMA joined 22 other federal agencies, programs and offices in becoming the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) -  The FBI is an intelligence-driven and threat-focused national security organization with both intelligence and law enforcement responsibilities. It is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Justice and a full member of the U.S. Intelligence Community. 
  • Ready.gov - Launched in February 2003, Ready is a National public service campaign designed to educate and empower the American people to prepare for, respond to and mitigate emergencies, including natural and man-made disasters. The goal of the campaign is to promote preparedness through public involvement.
Houses of Worship Preparedness
Federal Resources
Illinois Resources
Webinars and Videos
Online Training
Other Resources
DHS Grant Funding Opportunities*

The DHS Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) provides funding support opportunities for target-hardening and other physical security enhancements and activities to eligible nonprofit organizations that are at high risk of a terrorist attack and which are located with the geographic footprint of an urban area designated as an Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) jurisdiction under DHS’s UASI Grant Program.

The NSGP also promotes coordination and collaboration in emergency preparedness activities among public and private community representatives, as well as state and local government agencies. For organizations that are not located within a designated UASI site, funding for similar security enhancements is available through the states and territories under the Department’s State Homeland Security Grant Program.

FEMA’s Grant Programs Directorate staff are ready to work with them to re-program dollars to allowable expenses. More information about FEMA's grant programs.

* The DuPage County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management does not assist with grant writing or support. Interested organizations should contact the DHS and/or FEMA directly.

DHS Protective Security Advisor

Federal Protective Security Advisors (PSAs) are field-based representatives who work with Federal, State, and local government partners and the private sector to assess the local needs for information, training, and technical assistance. PSAs can also help with more in-depth activities, such as vulnerability assessments and security surveys.

Regardless of whether an organization would like the level of hands-on technical assistance that a PSA can provide, or they just want to learn at their own pace through online resources, DHS offers free tools and resources to help faith-based and other community organizations plan the best way to reduce the likelihood or minimize the impact of a successful attack on local venues. Get started today by contacting NICC@hq.dhs.gov for help connecting with your local PSA. More information about Federal Protective Security Advisors

DuPage County is currently working with DHS, CISA, as well as other local first-responder organizations to plan one day all-hazards preparedness workshops, focused on houses of worship. Topics may include emergency response planning, outdoor event preparedness, exercises tips, and more. Please check back to this webpage for additional details. Until more information becomes available, representatives from DuPage County houses of worship are encouraged to utilize the links above to develop their own emergency response plans, conduct security self assessments, and contact the County and/or their local police or fire department for additional guidance.
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