Iowa GuideOne, National Safety Council List America’s Safest Churches

September 28, 2006

The next time you go to church, you may notice security guards, controlled access, or a secure drop box for collections. These are just some of the innovative safety and security measures being implemented by churches across the country to combat growing threats in their communities.

To honor these efforts, eight congregations, from Florida to Washington, have been named national winners or finalists in the second-annual “America’s Safest Churches” awards, supported by the National Safety Council, headquartered in Chicago and sponsored by Iowa-based GuideOne Insurance.

The five national award winners and three finalists were selected by a
panel of safety and insurance industry officials for demonstrating
excellence in building security, fire prevention, transportation, employee and volunteer screening, and/or communication, education and enforcement. Each church will be honored throughout October during National Church Safety & Security Month.

“Churches are vital hubs in every community across the nation,
profoundly impacting and influencing millions of Americans,” said Donna Stein-Harris, executive director of Home and Community Partnerships at the National Safety Council. “National Church Safety and Security Month and America’s Safest Churches are important programs honoring churches who make safety a priority, and who integrate safety into all aspects of their operations and outreach. We applaud GuideOne Insurance for sponsoring these innovative programs and drawing attention to the importance of accident
prevention and risk management.”

This year’s “America’s Safest Churches” honorees implemented a number of proactive measures, including risk management policies and procedures;closely monitoring children and youth ministry programs; limiting building access by using card keys; utilizing foot patrol during services; purchasing safer vehicles for transporting members; hosting education programs on topics, such as First Aid and preventing child sexual abuse; and conducting periodic facility inspections and annual audits.

“True concern and commitment must be displayed to earn distinction as one of America’s Safest Churches,” said Eric Spacek, senior church risk manager at GuideOne Insurance, one of the nation’s largest church insurers.

“It’s not enough for a congregation or spiritual leader to say that they
care; they must be vigilant in their policies and actions. Churches are
increasingly at risk, and our panel of experts distinguishes those
congregations that truly shepherd their members and communities.”

Both organizations say that all churches are encouraged to follow in the winners’ footsteps by protecting their own congregation members and ministry. In order to help churches get started, a low-cost risk management starter kit is being offered during the month of October, which also is Church Safety & Security month. Visit to order a kit, which includes a First Aid kit, flashlight, a flier outlining “Ten Steps to a Safer Church,” a Safe and Secure Ministry Guide; and Safeguard Solutions Volumes 1 and 2,
which contain checklists and forms that all churches need. These kits are available for purchase online in the GuideOne Store at $40 each, beginning Oct. 1, 2006.

The national winners from each region, and corresponding judges’
citations, are as follows: Fellowship Community Church, Parker, Colo. (West Region); Wyatt Park Baptist Church, St. Joseph, Mo. (Midwest Region); Vinton Baptist Church, Vinton, Ohio (Midwest Region); Overcoming By Faith, Savannah, Ga. (East Region); and, Lakeview Church of the Nazarene, Waynesville, N.C. (East Region).

Award finalists are as follows: First Evangelical Presbyterian Church,
Renton, Wash. (West Region); The Potter’s House Church of God, Columbus,Ohio (Midwest Region); and East Life Center Church, Eatonville, Fla. (East Region).

Headquartered in West Des Moines, Iowa, GuideOne identifies itself as one of the nation’s largest church insurers, with approximately 43,000 church policyholders. GuideOne also insures faith-based private schools and colleges, as well as not-for-profit senior living communities.

Source: GuideOne, National Safety Council

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