Church Ushers

Procedure Guidelines

The hospitality and friendliness of ushers could well be a key component in whether first-time visitors to our church will return.  Those who serve as ushers in the Apostolic Faith organization should do their best to ensure that individuals who come to our places of worship feel welcome, safe, and spiritually blessed by their visit. In addition, ushers help ensure a smoothly running church service and assist congregation members and visitors in a variety of practical ways.

Staff Requirements

Since ushers are among those entrusted with the safety and security of the congregation during services, it is important for them to be able-bodied, alert, and competent individuals who can take the initiative in crisis situations.

Ushers for the Apostolic Faith Church must complete the following requirements before serving in this role:

  • Read the Apostolic Faith Church Volunteer Handbook.
  • Take the online child safety training recommended by the church insurance company. (Information on how to access this training is available at Print documentation which indicates successful completion of the training, and provide a copy to the pastor.
  • Be thoroughly familiar with the contents of this document.
  • Watch the video regarding how to give CPR posted online by the American Heart Association. This can be accessed at
  • Watch the online video provided by the Department of Homeland Security regarding what to do in event of an active shooter. This can be accessed at
  • Fill out and submit a Worker Application form upon completion of all training requirements. Applicants are asked to disclose any matter which may affect their suitability to work with children and youth. Authorization to do a background check is included as part of the form. (The information obtained through this process will be kept confidential.)

In addition, we recommend that all church workers who interact with minors in a ministry role read the document “What You Can Do About Child Abuse,” published by the Oregon Department of Human Services, publication #DHS 9061. It is available at

Ushers must be prepared to fulfill on an ongoing basis any additional retraining or recertification requirements established by the Apostolic Faith organization.


Ushers are responsible to:

  • Open the church building at the designated time (generally at least thirty minutes prior to each service).
  • Wear an usher identification nametag.
  • Be available to greet members and visitors twenty to thirty minutes before the session or service begins, and after worship services.
  • Seat guests who arrive during the service. Maintain an awareness of where seats are available so you can seat people quickly.
  • Open doors and offer assistance to guests who have disabilities or need accommodation for wheelchairs, walkers, etc.
  • Offer church welcome information, distribute programs, and make sure guests have any bulletins or handouts.
  • Be prepared to answer questions regarding location of Sunday school departments, restrooms, lost and found, etc.
  • Watch and listen! Be alert to the needs of people during the service.
  • Ensure that the pastor or church office receives any contact cards, prayers requests, or other information given to the ushers.

Security During Services

  • At the beginning of the service, lock church entrances except for the main doors.
  • Be prepared to intercept any disruptive person who attempts to enter the sanctuary.
  • Follow the guidelines described below for the handling of emergency situations.
  • Secure the building after the service (including altar service) concludes and the building is vacant.

Record Keeping

A current list of phone numbers for crisis responders should be kept near entries and at other strategic locations throughout the church. The list should include the church address, and provide phone numbers for:

  • 911 (police, fire, and medical assistance).
  • Security and building maintenance contact person(s).
  • Church emergency responders (CERs), and/or individuals in the congregation who have emergency response or medical training.
  • Minister(s) to contact in event of emergency.

An Accident/Incident Report form must be filled out and submitted to the headquarters office after any accident or medical emergency in which an usher took a supervisory role.

Abuse Prevention and Reporting

The Apostolic Faith organization is committed to providing a safe, secure environment for children and their families, so we make every effort to safeguard the children who have been entrusted to our care. We have zero tolerance for abuse in church programs and activities. It is the responsibility of every staff member and volunteer in the Apostolic Faith work to act in the best interest of all children in every program.

While suspicions or knowledge of abuse are extremely difficult situations, we do not have discretion in this matter: we are legally obligated to immediately fulfill our responsibilities in accordance with state requirements. According to Oregon law (the state in which this organization is registered as a corporation), mandatory reporters include ministers and school teachers, along with law enforcement personnel and medical professionals. (Oregon Statutes: ORS 419B.005, ORS 12.117) For that reason, staff members or volunteers who observe any policy violations or suspected abuse, or receive an allegation of abuse, must immediately report the matter to their ministry supervisor or the pastor.

Definition of Abuse

In general, the term “child abuse” refers to any injury to a minor not caused by accident, which results in observable and substantial impairment of a child’s ability to function, including any injury which appears to be at variance with the explanation given of the injury. This includes sexual abuse or exploitation, negligence, maltreatment, or threatened harm to a child.


Staff members and volunteers should have a basic understanding of the characteristics of sexual predators and their behaviors in “grooming” a child for sexual abuse. Grooming is the process used by an abuser to select a child, win the child’s trust (and the trust of the child’s parent or “gatekeeper”), manipulate the child into sexual activity, and keep the child from disclosing the abuse.

Prevention Procedures

The Apostolic Faith maintains a legally-approved risk management policy regarding children and youth. The following procedures are strictly enforced:

  • All church employees and volunteers who work with children and youth are screened, selected, trained, and certified according to the guidelines recommended by legal and insurance advisors.
  • Any individual who has been convicted of child abuse is prohibited from working with children in the Apostolic Faith Church. Allegations of abuse or other criminal offenses may also disqualify an individual.
  • Church employees and volunteers who work with children and youth are required to adhere to the procedures and guidelines established by the Apostolic Faith Church.

The Apostolic Faith reserves the right to immediately dismiss any volunteer or employee who is accused of violating the procedures and guidelines established by the organization.

Failure to report a prohibited act to the designated person is a violation of this policy and grounds for termination of employment of an employee of the church. Volunteers who fail to report a prohibited act may be restricted from participation in any church activities involving children or youth.

What to Report

Reasonable grounds to report suspected abuse exist if:

  • A child says that he/she has been abused. This is known as “disclosure.”
  • A responsible individual states that a child is being abused.
  • There is basis for concern based upon physical, emotional, or other indicators of possible abuse.

Steps in Reporting

If a child or young person discloses that he/she is being abused, or his/her actions suggest that abuse is occurring, staff and volunteers are instructed to take the following steps:

  • If the alleged incident occurred on site, make sure that the child is not in immediate danger. If the suspected abuser is present, separate the child and other children from that individual.
  • Listen carefully.
  • Reassure the child that he/she took the right step in telling.
  • Tell the child that people who can help will be notified.
  • Write down exactly what was said, noting the time, place, and context in which the disclosure was made.
  • Immediately report the alleged abuse to the department or activity supervisor, who will report the allegation in writing to the pastor.

Do not:

  • Make it apparent to the child that you are shocked.
  • Ask specific questions, as these could influence the clarity of the child’s memory.
  • Promise that the abuse will stop.
  • Conduct any personal investigation.
  • Share information with those outside the proper reporting channels.

Organizational Response to Allegations of Abuse

When the pastor receives credible information suggesting that abuse has occurred, he will immediately contact Children’s Services Division or the appropriate law enforcement agency in the state. He will also inform the Superintendent General of the allegation. The church will coordinate its internal investigation with the governmental entity involved.

A designated church representative will interact with legal counsel and insurance representatives, and will respond as directed to questions from the media concerning allegations of abuse or neglect. Other staff members should refrain from comment. During the investigation the alleged abuser will not participate in any church activities involving minors.

If the internal or external investigation results in credible evidence supporting the allegations, the pastor will impose appropriate disciplinary restrictions, which may range from dismissal from duty to barring from church attendance.

Emergency Procedures

Ushers should be available during each church service. In emergency situations, they will operate in conjunction with Church Emergency Responder (CERs). These individuals are trained to issue instructions, broadcast alerts, supervise medical and accident situations, and guide evacuation procedures in event of an emergency. All ushers should immediately report emergencies to the on-duty CER, and follow his instructions.

In emergency situations when no CER is available, ushers must be prepared to step into the CER role. Thus, ushers must be thoroughly familiar with:

  • The scope of his responsibilities as outlined in the Safety and Security Manual and this document.
  • The location and operation of all available fire alarms and fire extinguishers.
  • The location and operation of any building emergency notification system.
  • The location of all first aid supplies and medical equipment.
  • All emergency exits and building evacuation routes.
  • Method of communicating with the pastor, ushers, and/or other safety and security personnel.
  • Identity of all Church Emergency Responders (CERs) and/or individuals in the congregation who have emergency response or medical training.
  • How to follow through with the proper response procedures for various types of emergencies.

The following types of emergencies are presented in alphabetical order.

Accident or Medical Emergency

If the person who is ill or injured requires urgent attention, the CER or usher should take the following steps.

  • Conduct a preliminary assessment of the injury or nature of the emergency situation.
  • Call 911 if professional medical attention is needed. Be prepared to give information concerning location, number of people involved, and the nature of the injury.
  • Provide basic first aid or other intervention measures as necessary until emergency responders arrive on scene.
  • Look for an emergency medical identification card on the injured person, or check with the spouse or immediate family member for such information.
  • If the injured person is a minor, instruct someone to contact the parent/guardian.
  • Delegate someone to be in the parking lot to direct emergency vehicles and personnel coming to the scene.
  • Avoid accepting liability or making a commitment to pay expenses. While it is appropriate to express concern for the injured party, no comments should be made regarding fault, negligence, or responsibility.

When the injured or ill person has been appropriately cared for, the individual who handled the situation should take the following steps:

  • Inform the pastor and/or building maintenance supervisor where the accident took place and the circumstances which caused it. If the mishap was caused by a building defect, rope off the area to prevent further accidents. No repairs should be made until the insurance adjustor has completed any necessary investigation.
  • Fill out an Accident/Incident Report form.
  • If an insurance claim results, notify the headquarters office, relaying all available information including copies of any legal papers, demands, or notices received regarding the incident. All injuries involving insurance should be reported to the headquarters office within twenty-four hours, if possible.

Building Evacuation

A building evacuation is mandatory whenever a fire alarm sounds, and building occupants should exit immediately. Other situations may also arise which necessitate evacuation of the premises. In such cases, CERs, ministers, and ushers all will have a primary role in keeping everyone calm during the emergency. They should do the following:

  • Direct those in the vicinity to evacuate immediately, using the designated evacuation routes.
  • Monitor the doorways, reminding people of the closest evacuation route and designated safe zone outside the building.  
  • Remind teachers/activity leaders to take a head count of minors who are exiting with them, and to count again when they reach the safe zone.
  • Remind individuals exiting from upper floors to use stairwells rather than the elevators. If smoke or heat is encountered in a stairwell, they should move to another stairwell and continue to ground level.
  • Remind exiting individuals that if smoke is encountered, they should bend over and take short breaths through their noses.
  • Remind exiting individuals to feel doors before opening. If the door is hot, they should use another exit. If the door is cool, they should open it slowly, keeping behind the door in case it must be closed quickly to protect from inrushing smoke or fire.
  • When the individuals in your proximity are gone, check to make sure the area is empty. Close the doors when you leave.
  • Check nearby restrooms to make sure no child, elderly person, or disabled individual is there and needs help to evacuate safely.
  • Exit the building and go to the pre-designated safety zones of the parking lot, away from the building.
  • Check with teachers/activity leaders to make sure all their students are accounted for. If a child is missing, notify authorized safety personnel at the scene.
  • Make sure that individuals who have vacated the building do not gather near building exits, driveways, or roadways, as this could hinder the emergency response crews.
  • Wait for further instructions. Do not allow anyone to return to the building until the “all clear” signal is given by authorized safety officials.

Civil Disturbance

At times, churches can be targets for demonstrations or disruptive actions. Social activist organizations or even hate groups occasionally attempt to spread their message by staging events that provoke confrontation and attract media attention. These actions may be orderly and peaceful. However, if a demonstrator or group of individuals comes onto church property for the purpose of intimidating, harassing, or threatening occupants or disrupting proceedings, CERs and ushers may need to assist in dealing with the situation. They should be prepared to:

  • If a church service is in progress, notify the pastor or minister in charge.
  • Call 911 or the police if the situation is threatening in any way. Law enforcement agencies are trained in strategies to defuse volatile situations, including protests, demonstrations, and riots.
  • Do not interact personally with the demonstrators unless approached by them.
  • Encourage children, youth, and others in the vicinity to remain calm and avoid confrontation.
  • Secure the immediate area by locking exterior doors. If time permits, lock desks, file drawers, and storage areas as well.
  • If the demonstrators are aggressive or threatening in any way, stay away from doors and windows.
  • If the demonstrators attempt to enter the building, do not try to physically halt their entry.
  • If the situation is tense in any way, ask those in the building not to leave until law enforcement personnel are on the scene and able to ensure the safety of those exiting.

Disruptive Person

The following procedure should be followed if a person enters the church while a service is in progress, and purposefully causes a disturbance, acts irrationally, or threatens physical harm:

  • If the person is obviously intoxicated, on drugs, or agitated, an usher and/or CER should engage the person in conversation to assess his/her condition, and deter entry to the sanctuary, if possible.
  • If the disruptive person is already in the sanctuary when the disturbance begins, the closest usher or CER should immediately approach and attempt to calm the individual and persuade him to leave the sanctuary. If other ushers or CERs are present, they should move toward the scene to give assistance if needed.
  • If the disturbance continues, the disruptive person should be escorted from the sanctuary. More than one person should be involved in the removal so allegations of unreasonable force can be rebutted. If only one CER or usher is available, he should request help from an able-bodied worker in proximity to the situation.
  • If the disruptive person refuses to leave, or agitation persists after removal from the sanctuary, it may be necessary to call 911.
  • The pastor may instruct those in the sanctuary to kneel or bow their heads in prayer until the disruptive situation is dealt with.
  • Congregation members seated near the individual may be asked to move to another part of the sanctuary.

After the situation has been defused, the CER or usher who took charge of the situation should make a record of the event using the Accident/Incident Report form, and include a brief description of what transpired. This record should include the names of any individuals who took part in subduing the disruptive individual. Keep this record in the church files in case there is later legal action.

If the disruptive person makes threats, or there is any potential that he might return at a later time to retaliate, the church may wish to impose a restraining order prohibiting the individual from coming onto church property or contacting staff or members of the church.


If an earthquake occurs during a service, CERs and ushers should be prepared to instruct and assist those present in taking the following steps:

  • Take shelter under cover, such as a pew, desk, or table. In the sanctuary, individuals who cannot get under a pew should kneel between them.
  • If it is not possible to shelter under furniture, kneel next to an interior permanent wall away from windows, overhead light fixtures, and tall pieces of furniture.
  • Bend your head close to your knees. Protect your head and neck with your arms and hands.
  • Stay in place. Do not run outside or use stairways or elevators.
  • Stay under cover for at least two to three minutes after the shaking stops, as there may be aftershocks.
  • Be aware that the fire alarm or sprinkler system may activate.

Once the quake has subsided, a CER or usher should call 911. All available ushers and CERs should treat injured people in the vicinity as their level of expertise permits, remembering that anyone with a serious injury should not be moved unless there is immediate danger. Ushers and CERs should instruct those who are exiting to avoid going into or through areas where structural damage may have rendered the building unsafe.


Workers who detect a fire while a service or activity is in progress are instructed to notify an usher or CER. That individual should take the following steps:

  • Call 911 giving the church name, telephone number, and location, along with the general area in the building where the fire is located.
  • Notify the pastor or minister in charge and initiate a building evacuation if necessary.
  • Assist in an orderly evacuation of the church, guiding people to use the prescribed evacuation routes to designated safe zones away from the building.
  • Help disabled persons to exit safely, or ask an able-bodied person nearby to do so.
  • Instruct people not to use the elevator in descending from upper floors. If smoke or heat is encountered in a stairwell, they should proceed to another stairwell and continue evacuation to ground level and outdoors.
  • If smoke is present, instruct people to bend over and take short breaths through the nose as they move toward the exit.
  • Instruct individuals to feel doors before opening. If the door is hot, they should choose another exit. If the door is cool, they should open it slowly, keeping behind the door in case they have to close it quickly to protect from incoming smoke or fire.
  • Check restrooms, baby rooms, Sunday school areas, and offices in your vicinity to make sure everyone has exited.
  • Once outside, encourage people not to congregate near exits, driveways, or roadways. Keep these clear for emergency response crews.
  • Do not allow people to remove their cars from the parking lot.
  • Do not allow people to reenter the building until an “all clear” is issued by authorized fire personnel.


The official hurricane season in the United States runs from June through November, but historically, the most active storms occur from August through October. Current storm advisories can be tracked online at

CERs, ministers, and ushers whose churches are in hurricane/tornado zones should be familiar with the National Weather Service terminology regarding storm conditions.  A Hurricane/Tornado Watch indicates that hurricane conditions are possible within 36 to 48 hours. Hurricane/Tornado Warning is an alert issued by the National Weather Service after a hurricane or tornado has been detected by radar or sighted by weather watchers or the public. The National Weather Service provides the approximate time of detection, the location of the storm, and the direction of movement. When a Hurricane/Tornado Warning is issued, prompt emergency action should be taken.

If a hurricane/tornado warning is announced during a church service, the CERs should be prepared to take the following steps:

  • Notify the pastor or minister in charge of the approaching storm.
  • Instruct people to seek shelter on the lowest floor of the building—in a basement if possible. If there is no basement in the church, have people move away from the building perimeter and into interior rooms away from windows and large expanses of unsupported ceilings. The safest areas are interior hallways, small rooms opposite to the approach of the storm, bathrooms, or closets.
  • Assist disabled individuals in the vicinity to get to a safe area, or ask an able-bodied person nearby to do so.
  • Instruct people not to use the elevators or go outside to their vehicles.
  • Make sure that everyone shelters in place until an official “all-clear” is given.


If a violent person is causing or threatening deadly harm in the church, the usher or CER should immediately call 911. Do not activate the fire alarm as this could place people in the vicinity of the intruder as they attempt to exit.

Individuals not in the immediate vicinity should be told to flee the building if this can be done safely. If flight is dangerous or impossible, people should be instructed to take the following steps:

  • Move into securable areas such as offices or Sunday school departments.
  • Occupy separate locations as much as possible to make it more difficult for a violent intruder to cause multiple injuries.
  • Lock the room doors and stay away from windows.  
  • Put as many barriers between themselves and the intruder as possible.
  • If time permits, close blinds or curtains and turn off all lights and audio equipment.  
  • Remain quiet.
  • Prepare to defend themselves, including arming themselves with heavy objects.
  • Stay in the secured area until notified that it is safe to leave by the police or church safety personnel.

Missing Child

If a service is in progress, the person who discovers that the child is missing is instructed to notify a CER or usher. That individual should notify the pastor. The individual who assumes control of the situation should then:

  • If the child is missing from a Sunday school area, notify the Sunday school department leader.
  • Contact other ushers and staff members as needed to assist with a search of the church premises.
  • Notify the parent/guardian of the child of the situation and the action being taken.
  • Determine if and when 911 help should be summoned. If the situation is a suspected kidnapping, contact law enforcement officials immediately.
  • When the child is found, notify searchers and the parent/guardian that the situation has been resolved.

Power Outage

If a power outage occurs when a service or event is taking place in the church, CERs and/or ushers should take the following steps:

  • Do not call 9-1-1 except in the case of an emergency.
  • Assess the extent of the outage. If it is only in one area of the building, it may be a blown fuse or a tripped breaker. In that case, remedy the situation or report the outage to maintenance personnel.
  • If the local neighborhood is dark, notify your utility company of the loss of power, and ascertain the expected duration of the outage.
  • If outage continues, activate emergency lighting (if available), or obtain flashlights to assist those present in moving to a lighted location or exiting the building.
  • Check restrooms and other areas for individuals who may be trapped in a dark room (frightened children, individuals with special needs, etc.)
  • Before vacating the premises, assist with unplugging personal computers, non-essential electrical equipment, and appliances. Turn off non-critical equipment and lights.
  • Secure the facility before exiting.

Violent Intruder

Ushers often will be the first line of defense against disruptive or potentially violent individuals. Those on the ushering staff are instructed to:

  • Be alert to strangers loitering around the premises and especially watchful when unsupervised children are in the halls or other areas of the church. Be aware that attitude and body language can be indicators of a potential threat.
  • Extend a personal greeting to anyone who looks suspicious or agitated, and attempt to engage the person in a conversation in order to evaluate if there is a risk.
  • Be aware that violent individuals will usually come in after the service begins. Close the sanctuary doors once the prelude starts. Deny access, firmly but respectfully, to individuals who are unstable, agitated, angry, or intoxicated.
  • If the person demands entry, physically resists in any way, or the situation escalates, the CER or usher should immediately call 911.

If a violent person is causing or threatening deadly harm in the building, the usher or CER should immediately call 911. Do not activate the fire alarm or initiate a building evacuation as this could place people in the vicinity of the intruder.

Individuals who are caught in proximity to the violent intruder should do one of the following (options are listed in descending order of effectiveness):

  • Run. Escaping from a violent attacker is generally the best option if you can do so. If you decide to run, do not run in a straight line. Keep objects between you and the violent person as much as possible. When out of the immediate area, summon help and warn others.  
  • Hide. Get down on the floor and take cover under pews, chairs, or other objects. Violent attackers tend to notice upright people more readily.
  • Play dead. If you are unable to run or hide, you may choose to play dead, especially if other victims are around you.  
  • Fight back. Confronting the attacker is dangerous. However, this could be an option if you are physically fit or have an opportunity to disarm the intruder when he is looking another way.  
  • Individuals who are caught by the intruder and are not going to fight back should follow his directions and not look him in the eyes.  
  • When law enforcement arrives, obey all commands. This may involve individuals in the vicinity being handcuffed or made to put their hands in the air. This is done for safety reasons, and once circumstances are evaluated by law enforcement, they will give further directions.

Individuals not in the immediate vicinity should be told to flee the building if this can be done safely. If flight is dangerous or impossible, people should be instructed to take the following steps:

  • Move into securable areas such as offices or Sunday school departments.
  • Occupy separate locations as much as possible to make it more difficult for a violent intruder to cause multiple injuries.
  • Lock the room doors and stay away from windows.  
  • Put as many barriers between themselves and the intruder as possible.
  • If time permits, close blinds or curtains and turn off all lights and audio equipment.  
  • Remain quiet.
  • Prepare to defend themselves, including arming themselves with heavy objects.
  • Stay in the secured area until notified that it is safe to leave by the police or church safety personnel.