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iNET - National Disaster Interfaiths Network
September 2016 Issue
National Preparedness Month
September is National Preparedness Month (NPM) which serves as a reminder that we all must take action to prepare, now and throughout the year, for the types of emergencies that could affect us where we live, work, and also where we visit
BE A READYCongregationSM BE A READYFaithCommunitySM


Religious leaders are among the first and most trusted sources of risk-communication and crisis leadership; not only in houses of worship and faith communities, but in the neighborhoods and communities they serve. They have a central role both when disasters strike and in recovery. These resources offer current and emergency news, updates on best practices, current resources, and conference/training information.

  • iNET & iNET ALERTS E-newsletters
    Our free monthly e-newsletter for U.S. religious leaders and faith community partners.
    • iNET is an e-newsletter that covers national faith community news, advocacy issues. It shares best practices, the latest resources, and training opportunities.
    • iNET ALERTS are e-news bulletins notifying U.S. faith communities, religious leaders, and faith community partners about actions they should take in response to national or regional public health crises, emergencies, or disasters. iNET includes headlines or new resources of immediate significance.

  • DIN: Disaster Tip Sheets for U.S. Religious Leaders
    These 26 Tip Sheets offer best practices and resources to assist religious leaders and congregations as they prepare to serve and respond in effective, inclusive, and compassionate ways.
    1. Disaster Basics for Faith Communities
    2. The Disaster Lifecycle: Where Do Religious Leaders Fit In?
    3. National Faith-Based Disaster Service Organizations
    4. The Role of Faith Communities in Disasters
    5. How to Use Your House of Worship in a Disaster
    6. Disaster Backlash: Bias Crimes & Mitigation
    7. Active Shooter in a House of Worship
    8. Continuity of Operations Planning
    9. Self-Care for Religious Leaders
    10. Disaster Spiritual Care
    11. Faith Communities & Disaster Mental Health
    12. Faith Communities & the Disaster Distress Helpline
    13. Faith Communities & Trauma Resilience 
    14. Faith Communities & Risk Communication
    15. Faith Communities & Evacuation Planning
    16. Faith Communities & Disaster Sheltering 
    17. Faith Communities & Long Term Recovery
    18. Faith Communities & Debris or Mud Removal
    19. Faith Communities & Cold Weather Hazards
    20. Faith Communities & Hot Weather Hazards
    21. Faith Communities & Disaster Volunteerism 
    22. Faith Communities & Donations Management
    23. Immigrant Eligibility & Disaster Assistance
    24. Children & Disasters
    25. LGBT Needs & Disaster
    26. Vulnerable Populations & Disasters

Since 2011, NDIN and the USC Center for Religion & Civic Culture have partnered on a wide variety of research, resource development and training projects – all directed at building the disaster preparedness, response and recovery capacity and resilience of faith communities and their non-profit or government partners. These resources include:

Religious Competency Guidelines for Sheltering & Mass Care
The guidelines in this Tip Sheet set are designed to inform religious literacy, cultural competency, and reasonable religious accommodation mandates for U.S. Mass Care providers, and to assist staff and volunteers in competently meeting the needs of minority faith communities during disaster response or recovery operations - whether at a government or private shelter, or a shelter in house of worship or other religious facility.

In 2014, NDIN and USC CRCC signed a "Collaboration Agreement" with the national American Red Cross to co-brand this Tip Sheet Set. The collaboration allowed for wider distribution of these tools through our nation's leading Mass Care provider and its many chapters, partners and volunteers.
1. Competency Guidelines: Sheltering & Mass Care for Buddhists
2. Competency Guidelines: Sheltering & Mass Care for Hindus
3. Competency Guidelines: Sheltering & Mass Care for Jews
4. Competency Guidelines: Sheltering & Mass Care for Muslims
5. Competency Guidelines: Sheltering & Mass Care for Sikhs

Creating an Engagement Plan and Strategy

Each disaster may affect a number of different faith communities; each with its own history, challenges, goals, capabilities, and resources. Understanding who you want to reach, their role, and what capabilities and resources they may have will help you design an appropriate plan. Religious hierarchies or interfaith coalitions/networks can serve as force amplifiers for spreading a message much more quickly, effectively, and appropriately than knocking on doors of individual houses of worship. To that end, we have designed the LEADER process.

1. LEADER is a six-step process for successfully engaging faith communities.

Religious Literacy Primer & Field Guide Set

Two companion resources tools, a Field Guide and a Religious Literacy Primer for Crises, Disasters and Public Health Emergencies are a must for all emergency managers, disaster mental and public health providers and disaster human services personnel or volunteers. The Field Guide is a how-to resource for engagement and partnerships, while its companion Religious Literacy Primer is an at-a-glance quick reference on twenty-four of the largest faith traditions in the United States. NDIN and USC CRCC offer classroom trainings on these resources to government, VOADs (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) and non-profit organizations seeking to enhance their religious literacy, competency, and ability to engage faith communities as partners.

Working with U.S. Faith Communities During Crises, Disasters, and Public Health Emergencies: A Field Guide for Engagement, Partnerships, and Religious Competency is a guide for engaging and building sustainable and competent partnerships with faith communities throughout the entire disaster lifecycle.

To Download PDF:
High Resolution -  Low Resolution -  Web Resolution
The Religious Literacy Primer for Crises, Disasters, and Public Health Emergencies is a quick-reference tool providing at-a-glance information on basic religious literacy for 24 of the largest religious communities in the United States.

To Download PDF:
High Resolution -  Low Resolution -  Web Resolution
People of faith, congregations, and faith-based organizations provide essential relief and recovery functions after disasters. Therefore, it is essential for secular entities, as well as government personnel and institutions, to understand the potential contributions and unique needs of America’s faith communities. The course and tip sheets below where written for FEMA by NDIN and USC CRCC.

IS-505: Religious & Cultural Literacy & Competency in Disaster
Religious and cultural communities are part of the whole community, and the DHS Center for Faith-based & Neighborhood Partnerships works to form partnerships between the Federal Government and faith-based and neighborhood organizations to more effectively serve Americans in need.

As part of this effort, in partnership with the University of Southern California Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorist Events (CREATE), this course and its companion tip sheet resources have been developed with the University of Southern California Center for Religion and Civic Culture (CRCC) and the National Disaster Interfaiths Network. In addition, FEMA personnel assisted the development of the course by providing their relevant expertise responding to disasters. The course provides emergency management professionals and faith and community leaders active in disaster with the religious literacy and competency tools needed to learn how to effectively engage religious and cultural groups and their leaders throughout the disaster lifecycle.

Course Objectives:
By the end of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Explain why we engage religious and cultural communities in disaster, and how religious and cultural diversity and practice is not only protected by law but how it strengthens emergency management’s capabilities.
  • Define the meaning of religious and cultural literacy and competency in disaster management.
  • Describe how religious and cultural language differs from government culture and language.
  • Identify the skills needed to competently engage religious and cultural leaders and groups in the field.
  • Describe each step in the six step "LEADER" process.

FEMA Tip Sheet: Faith Community Engagement Resources & Tools
Building religious literacy and competency is an ongoing process, with a wealth of both self-directed study resources and classroom trainings available. A good starting point is taking a religious literacy self-assessment. From there proceed with self-directed study with a focus on the religious traditions you may work with or care for in crisis settings. These resources for advance learning or field tools are a great starting point. There is also a list of smartphone apps available for use in the field when scheduling meetings and for locating culturally-appropriate food vendors.

FEMA Tip Sheets: Faith Community Engagement Guidelines
The following tip sheets cover foundational information to help emergency management professionals interact with a variety of religious groups. Much of the information also can help students, researchers, government agencies, non-profits and businesses learn about and develop relationships with communities.

  1. Engagement Guidelines: Index
  2. Engagement Guidelines: Buddhist Leaders
  3. Engagement Guidelines: Christian Leaders
  4. Black Church Protestant Leaders
  5. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon)
  6. Evangelical Megachurch Leaders
  7. Latino Protestant Leaders
  8. Orthodox Christian Leaders
  9. Protestant Leaders
  10. Roman Catholic Leaders
  11. Engagement Guidelines: Hindu Leaders
  12. Engagement Guidelines: Jewish Leaders
  13. Engagement Guidelines: Muslim Leaders
  14. Engagement Guidelines: Sikh

FEMA Tip Sheet: Engaging Culturally Diverse Communities
Cultural competence is the appropriate level of knowledge-based skills of individuals or organizations required to provide effective engagement and disaster human services to impacted individuals from a particular cultural group (e.g., racial or ethnic).


Our courses cover a variety of subjects addressing all-hazards readiness, response, and recovery-including resources as well as direct services and disaster spiritual care skills. The courses are specifically tailored to houses of worship, religious leaders, and government and VOAD partners.

Disaster Spiritual Care Training
NDIN trains and credentials faith leaders, spiritual care providers, and institutional chaplains to volunteer as disaster chaplains or spiritual care workers in mass-care settings, or to serve their house of worship or local community during times of crisis.
Training Brochure & Overview

  • Disaster Spiritual Care Worker
    This (4-hour) course prepares "lay" leaders and caregivers to provide basic spiritual and emotional care during deployment in emergency settings such as mass-care facilities, evacuation centers, and Point of Distribution (POD) sites, as well as within their own house of worship or religious institution. Designed as a half-day or evening session, this training provides a basic introduction to Disaster Spiritual Care, Disaster Mental Health, and Self-Care, in an interactive format. Each registrant must be endorsed for this training and/or currently serve as a professional chaplain and/or credentialed religious leader. (Prerequisite: FEMA IS 100 - an online course on the Incident Command System.)
    Training Brochure & Overview
  • Disaster Chaplain Training
    This two-day (16-hour) training course prepares chaplains and credentialed religious leaders to provide spiritual and emotional care during deployment to disaster sites as well as within their own communities. The course comprises four 4-hour sessions covering disaster operations, disaster spiritual care, disaster mental health, and self-care for caregivers. Each registrant must be endorsed for this training and/or currently serve as a professional chaplain and/or credentialed religious leader. (Prerequisite: FEMA IS 100 - an online course on the Incident Command System.)
  • Disaster Spiritual Care - Training for Trainers Certification 
    This two-day (16-hour) trainer program equips participants to train others in NDIN's Disaster Spiritual Care Curriculum. In addition to content review, this two-day training examines the characteristics of adult learners and models cooperative learning. (Pre-requisite: Two-day NDIN Disaster Chaplain Training.)

Emergency Rest Center Training 
The Emergency Rest Center management training instructs staff and volunteers from houses of worship in how to self-activate as a Emergency Rest Center (ERC). ERC's offer hospitality, risk communication and safe haven to the public during emergencies or mass evacuations. When taught in collaboration with a local office of emergency management, this course can also help develop a network of houses of worship which coordinate services with government, VOAD, or non-profit human services providers.
• Training Brochure & Overview

Engaging Faith Communities in Disaster: Increasing Religious Literacy & Competency
This course is framed by our field-guide set and tip sheets, and is offered in three formats: a 45 minute orientation workshop as well as both a half-day and full-day training. The course provides an overview of why and how to engage faith communities during disasters and public health emergencies. The training focuses on best practices in working with faith communities in crisis settings, religious competency, and literacy, as well as an overview of current resources and how to databank local faith communities. The course prepares government, VOAD/non-profit and religious leaders, and volunteers to conduct outreach to and engage congregations and religious leaders in partnerships, in addition to support for disaster human services/mass care needs of religious populations.

  • Training Brochure & Overview
    A portion of the material within this course was developed for the Emergency Management Institute (EMI) through a collaborative training partnership between FEMA's Center for Faith-based & Neighborhood Partnerships, DHS Science & Technology Resilient Systems Division, DHS' National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE) at the University of Southern California (USC), USC CCRC, and NDIN.

Other READYCongregation Courses
NDIN regularly customizes conference workshops and trainings. For more information, email us.

Disaster Tip Sheets for Religious Leaders explores disaster resilience in a half or full-day training "Managing in Chaos: Serving in Disaster" based on 16 all-hazards tip sheets for religious leaders. (Overview)

Trauma Awareness & Resilience offers a series of experiential trainings based on STAR NYC (Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience) trainings and seminarsSeminars focus on the impact of trauma and its role in cycles of victimhood and violence in the aftermath of a disaster.



Agencies Providing Resources & Support


  • Emergency Operations Planning Resources:
  • Active Shooter Preparedness Resources:



  • FEMA EMI Courses 
    The primary audience for the Independent Study Program is national emergency response and recovery personnel of the United States, as well as emergency management personnel of FEMA, and US citizens.
  • Free online independent study courses for everyone:

Testing Your Plan
The following resources are designed to provide you with an approach to test and think through how to respond to a natural or manmade emergency or disaster.

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