Resolution R7-14: Disaster Preparedness

RESOLVED: That the 104th Convention of the Diocese of Northern California hereby directs all congregations, diocesan institutions and offices within the Diocese of Northern California to have current disaster preparedness plans; and be it further

 RESOLVED, That all such congregations, institutions and offices shall develop such plans, with the aid of the diocesan Disaster Coordinator when needed, prior to the 105th Convention of the Diocese of Northern California in 2015; and be it further

 RESOLVED, That the Diocesan Disaster Coordinator shall establish procedures for monitoring progress in implementing this policy; and be it further

 RESOLVED, That Diocesan Disaster Coordinator shall report on the state of disaster preparedness to the 105th Convention of the Diocese.


 Churches can be great in a crisis. By their very nature they have the capacity to gather people to common cause, to pray and facilitate hopeful and healing ritual and to offer hospitality and community outreach. Their coffee makers are large. They usually have a good supply of tables and chairs. And among their people are the kind of folks who roll up their sleeves and get things done. Most importantly, churches are animated by the Gospel and its central call to seek and serve Christ in society’s most vulnerable members. When people are in danger of falling through the cracks, churches offer important safety nets, including a human one that embraces, supports, heals and loves. When a disaster hits a community, churches have a unique role to play and a particular set of gifts to employ.

 But mobilizing all these gifts on a congregational level during an unexpected crisis is no easy task. It works better with some preparation, with a vision of what effective response looks like and a sense of how to use the tools and gifts at hand as needs change on a community’s road to recovery. Here the diocese has its own role to play, as a source of leadership and support and a clearinghouse for information and resources.

We live in an area that is subject to natural disasters such as earthquakes, fires, and floods. We are also increasingly aware of the possibility of human-initiated disasters such as terrorism. Prudent stewardship of the resources of the church requires that we be prepared for such events. We also owe it to the communities in which we live to exercise leadership in helping those communities to be resilient in the face of possible disaster.

The role of the Disaster Preparedness Committee, formed in 2012 at the request of Episcopal Relief and Development and Bishop Beisner, is to offer guidance and support to congregations and other entities of the Diocese in the preparation of their disaster preparedness and response plans. The committee is working with Episcopal Relief and Development to provide training, information and other capacity-building activities for local leaders and congregations throughout the diocese. Planning templates and other resources are available to assist your congregation generate a plan that will not only assure that your congregational life will continue with the least amount of disruption, but you will also be in a good position to aid those in your community respond to the disaster.

FISCAL IMPACT: There will be minimal costs associated with preparing a disaster plan, but being prepared for a disaster may have a very positive impact on the mitigation of the effects of the disaster and returning a congregation to normalcy. In some dioceses, reaching out to the community with preparedness activities and events has had a very positive effect on evangelism and church attendance.

RELATION TO DIOCESAN STRATEGIC PRIORITIES: We believe that being prepared leads to a healthier congregation by not only seeing that the church itself is prepared, but all the families in the church are also prepared. Being prepared to serve your local community is a form of outreach, and increased visibility in the community is also an evangelism tool.

Passed at 2014 Diocesan Convention

© 2013 The Episcopal Diocese of Northern California.

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