We're aiming to forge new relationships to make our faith-based organizations more resilient against modern threats and better equipped to support modern day challenges.
March 23rd, 2023
In 2020, I was approached by Pastor Scott in the wake of a global pandemic; desperate to maintain a connection to his congregation when worship could no longer happen in person. I went from being a casual observer of weekly services to becoming a key component in how services were delivered. In retrospect the effort unified and modernized worship and brought the congregation together despite health, travel, military service and work of its congregants.
In the period of time that has passed since the pandemic began, as human beings we have seen some of the worst in each other and the world around us. We have faced considerable geopolitical and social unrest as we navigate the uncharted waters of many issues without an easy resolution.
In a challenging world many of us find strength in our faith based communities, whatever faith they may be. These communities become safe, supportive spaces to host difficult conversations about issues that can no longer be dismissed, "it can't happen here", "it won't happen to MY family."
Sexual exploitation, forced labor, cyber victimization and sextortion are not only all happening at an alarming rate in Ohio, but in our own backyards.
Faith based communities typically engage in considerable outreach, have potential exposure to those at risk of being victimized and should be prepared to recognize red flags and know where to turn for help. Often times many organizations talk about threats and social concerns at a given time and neglect re-assessing these concerns repeatedly over time, seeking training when needed and maintaining the needed contacts to turn to when the need arises.
This is not an issue unique to a church, temple, mosque or synagogue. Not one faith has all of the the answers to these issues. While we may share different beliefs, we stand to benefit from each other's experience, background and effort to improve our communities.
We can agree as a community of different faiths that we recognize the connection between believing in something greater than us and hope that a brighter future lies ahead beyond chaos we refuse to accept as a new normal.
We recognize that our places of worship can be center points of our community and have the opportunity to become sources of resiliency and sustainability - further reasons to have hope and help others find it too.
When really bad things happen in the world people question their faith. This uncertainty tends to undermine a core value common to most faiths - that we should maintain a level of decency and respect for each other as human beings.
By helping each other and respecting our unique differences, we can contribute to the reduction in moral decay. In the last several years we have seen things so awful, we have started to accept indecency, violence. hate and unkindness as societal norms. There is seemingly no boundary some people are willing to cross in order to shock and terrorize the world around them. Its to take a belief in something higher than one's self to advocate and fight the war against evil in the world around us.
Whatever you believe in, I respect your spiritual beliefs and I want to help protect your faith based community too.
The Northern Ohio Faith based Threat Exchange is an effort of Northern Ohio Infragard Members Alliance.
The Northern Ohio Infragard Members Alliance is a non-profit organization that serves as a public-private partnership between area businesses and individuals involved in the protection and resilience of US critical infrastructure and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. An area of focus previously unaddressed in Northern Ohio was the faith based community.
As a collective national level interest for InfraGard is the Religious Facilities Protection Program, designed to protect places of worship across the nation. The Northern Ohio Faith Based Threat Exchange aims to be a safe and secure forum for spiritual leaders and stakeholders from ALL faiths in the Northern Ohio area to collaborate with federal and local law enforcement, technical and cyber security professionals to reduce risk and consequence in our faith based communities by sharing intelligence and building interfaith partnerships.
A lot a folks in faith based communities can get a bit uneasy when the FBI gets mentioned. Acts of violence against our houses of worship are terrorism. Invading the sanctity of places of peace has taken the form of financial theft and cyber extortion to active shooter events during funerals. A lot of success for the FBI we never hear about takes the form of counter terrorism operations and preventing acts of violence before they occur.
With help from the FBI, CISA, DHS, the law enforcement in your community and the National InfraGard Member Alliance we will bridge a common divide and find ways to learn and respect each other more along the way.
The conversation will not always be comfortable or easy, but in having it together we will make the world a better place.
Sector Chief, Faith Based Communities
Northern Ohio InfraGard Members Alliance
Dr. Earl J. Motzer has supported law enforcement for sixty years, been a leader of healthcare facilities and health departments for over fifty years, and served as an adjunct university faculty member for forty-one years, Following retirement, he became a full time volunteer to assist DHHS, DHS CISA and I&A, FBI and ODNI with national security and other matters. Earl is an author of books and journal articles and has provided leadership to numerous professional and civic organizations. Related to the topic, he is Chair of the FBI INMA Countering Human Trafficking and Forced Labor Cross Sector Council.
Former FBI Special Agent Suzanne Lewis-Johnson is on a mission to mobilize communities to end all forms of human trafficking and exploitation. Suzanne serves as CEO of No More Trafficking (nomoretrafficking.org) and Founder of Uncaged Canaries (uncagedcanaries.com). Suzanne previously spent more than ten years working in nonprofits and ten years as an FBI agent, with some additional years in journalism and business thrown into the mix.
Rachel Socorro is a SurThriver of Human Trafficking who serves as Program Coordinator for the Survivor Advisory Council with The Collaborative to End Human Trafficking. She was sold into a captive marriage at age 19. For 15 years she was abused, trafficked for sex, labor, and human servitude. In 2017, Ms. Socorro gained her freedom and has worked diligently for the last several years to heal, grow, learn, and share the journey to freedom and wholeness.
Rachel founded Women Revived in 2017, a service based nonprofit, a nonprofit that offers resources to community members who have been impacted by human trafficking and other forms of domestic violence. Since then, the organization has expanded to serve all of Northeast Ohio, housed individuals through a safe housing program, reached over 500 individuals through in-person and online programs.
Rachel also founded The Heart Of It All: The Ohio Ministry Coalition To End Human Trafficking, a group of faith based community leaders who share a common mission, end Human Trafficking.
An experienced executive with over 10 years of managing Information Security and over 25 years of managing Information Technology teams. Rich's expertise includes Executive Leadership, Cybersecurity Strategy, Program Management, Information Security Analysis, Infrastructure, IT Risk Management, Customer Service, IT Disaster Recovery, Enterprise Business Resiliency, Incident Response, Training, Governance, Compliance, and Audit. Rich honorably served 24 years of active duty in the U.S. Navy on Submarines and Recruiting.
Rich believes in helping others and giving back by mentoring and assisting those transitioning from the military and entering the world of Information Technology and Security. He has spent several years volunteering with InfraGard, an FBI affiliate organization at the local, regional, and national levels, along with multiple local organizations that share information with security and infrastructure leaders in the Northern Ohio area.
Michael is an experienced leader and contributor in Information Technology and Security for the last 20 years combining networks, resources and people to strengthen communities, defend the vulnerable while helping organizations figure out ways to save money utilizing smart technologies.
Michael serves as the Enterprise Cybersecurity for Swagelok Company www.swagelok.com. Swagelok Company is a $2 billion privately held developer of fluid system products, assemblies, and services for the oil and gas, chemical and petrochemical, semiconductor, and transportation industries. Michael also serves as Director of Information Technology and Faith Based Protection Programs for Our Saviour Lutheran Church, having secured several grants to lead a path toward a smart church that costs less to operate.
An aspiring mountaineer with a background in emergency services, controlling chaos and restoring order while solving complex problems has been a regular part of his work for many years.
OUR SAVIOUR LUTHERAN HINCKLEY 2023
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