Preparing for Disaster: Resources for Pastors

  • Have you had any disaster training in the past five years - information on emotional, physical and spiritual resources available and important to aid your congregation?  Many Conferences are encouraging, and provide training for pastors. Contact your Conference Disaster Coordinator for more information.
  • A good place to explore training, including online, is through ICISF (International Critical Incident Stress Foundation). Your state fire or police academy may offer courses, such as “Individual Crisis Intervention and Peer Support/Group Crisis Intervention”.  FEMA also offers online courses.
  • Are you aware of the concept of caregiver fatigue or compassion fatigue (also called secondary traumatization)?  It's very important to understand the role of stress on a pastor in times of crises.  If you're not taking care of yourself, you won't be able to take care of others. See compassion fatigue inventory here.
  • Have you done anything to prepare your church for a disaster approaching or happening in your community?  For some pastors, this is a new concept. Some church and community members will look to you for help and support. Be a healing force in the community. Part of that is being prepared. You can mitigate the impact on children and families through education. Minimize the impact on buildings by guiding people to preparedness tools and community resources, and by having some resources in place for you and your church. Your outreach into the community will increase the church's pastoral presence in the community, but don’t try to do it alone.
  • How prepared are you and your church to respond to a disaster?  This document can be used in a church council meeting, with your staff and your committees to spur your church to organize its disaster role in the community. If you have questions, there may be people from MACUCC Disaster Resource Team who will be willing to speak to your church. In Massachusetts, the Disaster Resource Team has provided training at biannual Conference gatherings (Super Saturdays) and conducted inexpensive training workshops for pastors. If you would like more information, please contact the MACUCC Disaster Team coordinators.
  • Do you have lists of physicians, clergy/chaplains, nurses, EMTs, psychologists, and other potential first responders (and their contact information) in your church who could be mobilized in the event of an emergency at your church?
  • Are you aware of liturgies, music, and other worship aids for use at a time of disaster?  Find a "Disaster Preparedness Sunday" Liturgy here. When disasters happen, we need to be able to respond to spiritual needs right away. Find some resources here.
  • Are you aware of the UCC national staff can support you in the event of a disaster in your church or community? That information is available here
  • Have you talked with your local clergy association about how your can work together should a disaster happen? Share this information with them.
  • These are some links to help you:

MA Conference, UCC Disaster Protocol: How the Conference Can Help You

Disaster Preparedness Sunday Liturgy Resource from the MACUCC Disaster Resource and Response Team

Alban - Clergy Self Care Strategies  

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance 

The Text This Week: Worship and Prayer Resources

UCC National Disaster Resources  


General resources  

House of Worship Guidebook to Developing Emergency Operations Plans, released by the White House.

Local Church Disaster Preparedness and Response Planning Guidelinesfrom the United Church of Christ.

Disaster Tips Sheets from the National Disaster Interfaiths Network.


More helpful resources for pastors

          Faith Communities and Cold Weather Hazards

          Faith Communities and Disaster Sheltering

          Vulnerable Populations and Disaster