The Reverend Tim Kingsley is the Canon Pastor at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He has over 30 years of experience in crisis and security management, including serving as a senior leader in the field and as a volunteer first responder during 9/11. Currently, he is a Board Director for the Minnesota Crisis Intervention Team, a Police Chaplain, and a trained domestic violence counselor. Security C
Connections sat down with Revered Kingsley to gather his thoughts on church security.
SC: Can you describe St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Minneapolis and its faith community?
Whether you’re exploring your spirituality for the first time or are a lifelong Episcopalian, you’re in the right place! We believe that God loves you – no exceptions. We invite you to be part of Saint Mark’s to feel that love, to experience personal transformation, and to be equipped to join us in our mission to share the love of Jesus with the world.
SC: How did you find the transition from a 30-year career in safety and security, including as Director of Security at Columbia University, to your ministry role?
My decision to pursue a career as a priest after a fulfilling career in security was driven by a deep sense of calling and a strong love for people. Throughout my years in security, I had the privilege of protecting and ensuring the safety of individuals and communities. Over time, I realized that my passion for safeguarding people went beyond physical security; it encompassed their emotional and spiritual well-being as well.
This realization led me to a period of reflection and discernment, during which I felt a profound calling to serve people in a different capacity – as a spiritual guide and support system. I recognized that my love for people extended to helping them navigate life’s challenges, find solace in their faith, and experience personal transformation through their relationship with God.
My transition to becoming a priest is a testament to my commitment to continue loving and serving people in a holistic manner. As a priest, I believe I can offer not only spiritual guidance but also a compassionate and understanding presence, creating a safe space for individuals to explore their faith, seek answers to life’s questions, and experience the love and grace of God.
My background in security has equipped me with valuable skills in communication, crisis management, and community engagement, which I believe will be assets in my new role. I am excited about this transition and the opportunity to deepen my love for people by walking with them on their spiritual journeys, offering support, and sharing the message of God’s unconditional love.
SC: As a religious leader, how do you foster a strong security culture within your community?
To foster a robust security culture within our community, we employ a multifaceted approach. Our foundation is built on education and awareness, where we regularly conduct workshops and seminars covering a range of security topics, from cyber threats to physical safety and emergency preparedness. Clear and open communication channels are established to encourage prompt reporting of security concerns, and we actively involve our community members in security planning and decision-making through a dedicated security committee. Regular training sessions and drills prepare us for emergencies, while community leaders lead by example, adhering to security protocols.
Access control measures are implemented when necessary, and comprehensive security policies are communicated to all. Collaboration with local authorities, regular security audits, community engagement initiatives, feedback mechanisms, and the integration of technology further enhance our security culture. This holistic approach ensures that our community is not only safe but also united in its commitment to security and well-being.
SC: What are some specific challenges you face as a downtown church in serving your community?
The security challenges in downtown Minneapolis Church are indeed extensive, and they have been compounded by several factors. First and foremost, the mental health and community trauma issues have become more pronounced in the aftermath of the pandemic. The collective mental strain brought about by the pandemic’s disruptions has had a lasting impact on individuals and communities.
Additionally, the recent memory of the murder of George Floyd, along with other similar incidents in the community, has left a deep emotional scar. These events have highlighted the urgent need for addressing mental health concerns from a trauma-informed care perspective. Understanding and responding to the emotional and psychological trauma that individuals and the community have experienced are now critical components of our security and support efforts.
In this challenging environment, our commitment to security extends beyond physical safety. It encompasses creating a supportive and healing space for our community members, recognizing the importance of mental health and trauma-informed care as essential aspects of our mission to serve and protect.
SC: Why is collaboration with other churches in the Minneapolis Downtown Church Security Coalition, where you share information and best practices, so important?
Collaboration on security issues within faith communities is indeed crucial, especially in a context like Minneapolis where the law enforcement community faces resource limitations. While law enforcement agencies are dedicated to their responsibilities, it’s essential for faith communities to actively engage and support these efforts. By working together, faith communities can provide valuable insights, resources, and assistance to complement law enforcement’s work.
This collaborative approach can lead to more effective security measures and a safer environment for everyone. It’s heartening to see law enforcement being creative and responsive to community needs, and the support and assistance from faith communities can be a significant asset in achieving common security goals. Building strong partnerships between faith communities and law enforcement is a positive step towards enhancing overall community safety and well-being.
SC: Given the recent increase in mental health issues in America and your role on the Board of Directors for the Minnesota Crisis Intervention Team, why do you consider crisis teams so crucial?
Crisis Intervention Teams (CITs) play a vital role in both the public safety sector and the private sector, including secular and ecclesiastical organizations. These teams are essential because they bring a compassionate and empathetic approach to resolving crises without resorting to violence. In the public safety sector, CITs are specially trained law enforcement units that respond to incidents involving individuals experiencing mental health crises or emotional distress. Their training emphasizes de-escalation techniques, active listening, and empathy. This approach helps ensure that non-violent resolutions are prioritized, and individuals in crisis receive the support and assistance they need, often connecting them to mental health resources rather than resorting to arrest or confrontation.
In the private sector, especially within ecclesiastical organizations, having crisis intervention teams can be equally critical. These teams can assist in managing various crises within the community, ranging from emotional distress to conflicts or emergencies. Their empathetic and non-violent approach helps maintain a safe and supportive environment, particularly in places of worship or congregational settings where the well-being of members is a top priority.
The focus on empathetic and non-violent responses in crisis intervention teams aligns with the principles of empathy, compassion, and conflict resolution, which are essential in diffusing difficult situations and promoting understanding and healing. These teams are an invaluable asset in fostering safer and more supportive environments, whether in the public or private sector.
SC: What are a few trends in your local community that could benefit other church leaders in developing their security programs?
In Minneapolis, there has been a concerning increase in car theft, carjacking, expressions of aggressive mental health issues, and incidents potentially linked to intolerance and hate. Addressing these complex challenges requires a multifaceted approach involving law enforcement, mental health services, community outreach, education, and legislative action. My focus is on crime prevention, enhancing mental health support, engaging with the community to build trust, promoting tolerance and inclusivity through education, developing crisis intervention teams, advocating for relevant legislation, providing victim support, and continuously monitoring and analyzing data to identify trends and hotspots. Through collaborative efforts, I work to create a safer and more inclusive environment for all.