Over the past few days, severe storms, tornadoes and subsequent flooding have caused widespread damage across the Midwest and Texas. Several of our congregations and local communities have been affected.
Lewis Christian Church in Kansas sustained significant damage to their roof. Pastor Rhonda Glenn says that local firefighters responded immediately. Not only did they cover the roof on the outside: they helped secure the interior of the sanctuary against further damage by moving furniture, and covering the organ and piano. In addition to help from the fire department, the congregation also received support from city workers, farmers, and other neighbors. Everyone worked together to help clean up. Pastor Glenn notes that in a larger city, they would have incurred a much larger burden of expenses; but in their small community, the whole town pitched in to help.
The congregation is not yet sure what the scope of recovery is going to be. Due to the high volume of calls from recent storms, the insurance agency is not able to send an adjustor immediately to assess the damage. Fortunately, everyone is coming together in the meantime, and the church is resilient and prepared to move forward. They held worship services on Sunday in a different part of the building; and members showed up, showing great resolve to get through this together.
Pastor Glenn says that receiving a solidarity grant from Week of Compassion is a great affirmation that they have the care of the wider church as they move through this process and prepare for what’s ahead.
Meanwhile, Pastor Colton Lott of First Christian Church in El Reno, Oklahoma, received a call from his church administrator to turn on the television.
When he did, he saw members of his congregation being rescued from their home. Like many of their neighbors, they were stranded by floodwaters in the aftermath of a recent tornado.
“Tornadoes are so scary, so that’s what we’re prepared for,” said Rev. Colton. “But the local officials always say ‘‘flooding will be worst of it.’” That has turned out to be true for several families in his congregation: some with water in their basement; one rescued by boat; and another, having saved all of their livestock but now dealing with the loss of crops and expensive farm equipment.
A single flood can cause many different kinds of loss; which means many different kinds of recovery.
Rev. Colton says it means something to him that the first call he received was from Week of Compassion Executive Director, Vy Nguyen. Colton was also contacted by other Disciples pastors in the region, and ecumenical colleagues from his community. He says the many responses are a wonderful expression of Church, and what we can do together when we live into our calling to be community across time and space.
We continue to hold in prayer all of those affected by these recent storms; and we give thanks for first responders, ministry partners, and other expressions of the Church that reach out and offer support in times of need. To donate, please visit our website and designate your gift for “US Storms and Fires.” Week of Compassion ensures that your gift goes where it is most needed to support relief and recovery in the wake of disaster; immediately, and at every step along the way.