On Saturday, May 14 th, Whitfield County Emergency Management Agency hosted their first Place of
Worship Safety Seminar. 26 participants from 10 congregations came in to learn about various ways
they could be more prepared in their congregation. The program was launched in response to inquiries
from the community.
Participants for the Place of Worship Seminar learned about Georgia Emergency Management Agency’s
(GEMA) Praise and Preparedness program, mass care sheltering, disaster psychology, and disaster
planning. They also completed Stop the Bleed training and Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events
(CRASE) training. Participant Brandon Cannon of Welcome Hill Baptist Church said, “I recommend any
house of worship or civilian for that matter to attend one of their training seminars to be better
prepared in the event of a situation. Get aware to stay aware!”
Welcome Hill Baptist Church was inspired by the seminar to become the first in the state to obtain their
Praise and Preparedness Partnership with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland
Security (GEMA/HS) since its relaunch in 2022. “We’re proud to have been a part of the process for
Welcome Hill. It’s always heartwarming to see community members coming together to increase their
preparedness, whether it’s earning a distinguished honor such as this, joining the Community
Emergency Response Team (CERT), or any other avenue of personal preparedness,” says Christina Byrd
of Whitfield EMA.
On Sunday, May 15 th, the church decided to finish the process by Sunday, June 12 th . The safety team and
other church leadership updated their existing Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) based on information
learned at the seminar, developed a communications plan for events affecting the church, and hosted
Safety Sunday for their congregation. Safety Sunday included an evacuation drill during the morning
service, CRASE for the evening service instead of a traditional sermon, and Whitfield EMA and GEMA/HS
presentation of their Praise and Preparedness Certificate that they will be able to display at the church.
“Special thanks to Tim Reeve [GEMA Field Coordinator], Jason Ritter [GEMA Field Coordinator], Christina
Byrd [Whitfield EMA], and Jeff Ownby [Whitfield EMA] for bringing this wonderful opportunity to our
church, and hopefully other houses of worship will follow suit and get on board. The more we have, the
more we can deter violence in God’s house and possibly save lives if an accident or tragedy occurs,” says
On August 24 th, Whitfield County EMA will host a Small Business Seminar from 8-5 at Edward’s Park-
lunch will be provided. Participants will go through CRASE, Stop the Bleed, Risk Assessment, Epilepsy
Awareness, Disaster Planning, and Industry in Disasters. To sign up, visit