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A Message About Congregational Safety
June 24, 2022

Dear Colleagues,

Just before the U. S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the bishops of the Episcopal Church received an advisory from Canon C. K. Robertson of the Presiding Bishop’s office. He wrote:

“We have received information from federal authorities of credible security threats against clergy and churches around the potential release by the U.S. Supreme Court of its abortion decision. There is concern that clergy who have advised parishioners about abortion access and their reproductive rights may face threats or violence.
“The guidance we are hearing is for religious communities to encourage peaceful responses to the decision when it comes—in the days following the decision and also in weeks to come –while remaining vigilant about potential security threats.” 
Now that the court’s decision has come, we, as leaders of a church with a long history of supporting the right to an abortion, must consider the steps necessary to protect our congregations. Fortunately, we do not undertake this work alone.

The White House’s Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships recommends the following steps:

  1. Sign up for HSIN (Homeland Security Information Network): Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN) | Homeland Security (
  2. Explore the resources of the US government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) Protective Security Advisors program: Protective Security Advisors | CISA
  3. Sign Up for National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletins: National Terrorism Advisory System | Homeland Security (
  4. Read CISA Resources on Mitigating Attacks on Houses of Worship Security Guide, and The Power of Hello.

The Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships, a branch of the U. S Department of Homeland Security may be a useful resource. The contact in our area is Jordan Garza, who may be reached by email or by phone at 614-315-3669.

Canon John Johanssen is also available to speak about safety concerns. He can be reached via email or by phone at 614-286-4736.

In addition, the United States Department of Justice Community Relations Service (CRS) is facilitating two webinars next week for faith-based leaders and community members on how to prevent and respond to hate crimes against places of worship.

Dates and Registration

Monday, June 27, 2022
12:00 -1:30 p.m. ET

Wednesday, June 29, 2022
12:00 -1:30 p.m. ET

I understand that receiving this news and this plethora of resources can be a challenging experience. Please know you are in my prayers, as I hope I am in yours. Let us work together, judiciously and methodically, to keep God’s people safe and to continue to speak God’s word.
Bishop Smith signature
George Wayne Smith
Bishop Provisional
Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio
The Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio