Lutherans in the Twin Cities

Concordia University, St. Paul, plans unique criminal justice training

Imagine this: Someone comes into a church, seeking help. The church secretary replies, “The pastor is not here. Is there anything I can do?” In response, the person explains that she has been the victim of a sexual assault, and needs someone to confide in. Recognizing that there are issues about confidentiality in conversations, what is the appropriate response of the secretary?

Not all safety and security questions that faith leaders must confront are this intense, but all require some basic knowledge. And, with good connection to local law enforcement, congregations can learn the best policies for such cases.

“Faith Community Crime & Safety Symposium” is a training opportunity for leaders and staff of faith communities, to prepare them for situations like the one above, whether crimes against people or crimes against property. With the sponsorship of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans and Church Mutual Insurance Company, Concordia University, St. Paul, is hosting this training at Buenger Education Center from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on April 29.

“Leaders at Concordia University have supported the idea of a policing institute … [that] could include ongoing training for the different disciplines in law enforcement,” explained Ervin Weinkauf, criminal justice department chair. “Trainings like this faith community symposium will build bonds of relationship between churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, and law enforcement.” Weinkauf says this conference is a step toward a more permanent training institute.

Building future relationships now

Weinkauf envisions this symposium as a chance to “create and nurture working relationships of trust between the criminal justice community and people of faith.” And, he stresses that attendance is open to people of any faith community.

“Originally, we planned to invite people from our Lutheran mailing list,” he told Metro Lutheran. “But, we realized that the issues we will discuss here affect all faith communities.”

Symposium presenters will include John Bermal, a sergeant in the Apple Valley, Minnesota, police department (and divinity student); Michelle Basham, executive director of Genesis II, a family advocacy group; and Randy McAllister, a sergeant in the Cottage Park, Minnesota, police department. The three presenters will join Loren Evenrud on a panel to take questions from participants.

A fee of $50 will be charged for the symposium. Participants, in addition to two meals, will receive a USB drive that will include a variety of forms and guidelines related to church safety tips.

For more information about the “Faith Community Safety & Security Symposium, call Ervin Weinkauf at 651/641-8230 or go to www.csp.edu/News/events/FaithSafetySymposium.html.

Weinkauf encourages anyone interested in finding out how to handle situations like the one opening this article to attend.

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