Photo: Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance
in solidarity with disaster-affected communities
From inches of rain to tennis-ball sized hail. From straight-line ‘derecho’ winds to midnight tornadoes. From city-wide power outages to repair options in short supply. Multiple localized and severe storms were a rough start to summer across the United States, leaving Disciples facing significant challenges. But stormy weather also has also found Disciples ready to help.
When disasters strike, or as forecasts give advance notice, Week of Compassion often offers a ‘response watch’ in social media, sharing any known impact to Disciples churches and members, highlighting ways Disciples are helping their neighbors, and holding affected communities in prayer.
As soon as possible, Week of Compassion staff are in touch with Regional Ministers, local pastors, and ecumenical partners to assess needs and prepare responses, including solidarity grants for impacted congregations or church members, and for churches providing support and resources to their communities, then establishing networks for long-term recovery as it is needed.
Week of Compassion solidarity grants are about more than financial need and response - they are a way to offer the tangible concern, prayers, and presence of the whole church, in moments of significant need, uncertainty, and isolation. It is a way to say, “The whole church is with you.”
Recently, Week of Compassion connected with Korean Christian Church in Springfield IL, following the June 29 derecho. The church has a grocery distribution ministry that includes culturally-specific foods. In addition to some home damage in the area, many folks in the neighborhood (congregants and others) were without power for several days, which meant a significant loss of refrigerated food. Pastor Tom Yang was grateful to receive household solidarity grants to share with individual members, and a community solidarity grant for grocery replacement through their ministry.
I would like to express my deep appreciation for the phone conversation with you today and my heartfelt gratitude for the support that Week of Compassion is willing to provide for those in need. Please know that there are 4 church families suffering from the damage brought by the destructive storms that recently swept through our region.
The household solidarity grant and grocery support will provide those families with much-needed assistance and more importantly a renewed sense of assurance that they are not alone in this. Please also know that there are additional 5 families in town for whom we can offer support for groceries.
In a similar way, following the June 17 tornado in Tulsa OK, Disciples Village, a Disciples-founded affordable housing complex for seniors, experienced an extended power outage along with much of the city. After several days without electricity, residents lost all refrigerated food. Disciples Village Auxiliary Board member Sharon Sparks (a member at Harvard Avenue Christian Church) and the Oklahoma Region coordinated with Week of Compassion to get a Community Food Bank delivery to Disciples Village. In addition, Week of Compassion provided a community solidarity grant to help replace essential food items (especially meats, protein, and dairy) not provided by the food bank emergency boxes.
The solidarity grant funding has allowed the Auxiliary to create a shopping list which residents can use to select the items they want and need, delivered to them free of charge.
Week Of Compassion and the Oklahoma Disciples have been such a blessing to the residents at Disciples Village. Losing all the food in their refrigerators has been financially and emotionally devastating to many of our residents.
[In addition to the food delivery] They are also going to receive a credit for somewhere between $20-$25 with the R&G food truck that comes to the Village once a week. The food truck is a wonderful program that comes to food deserts all over our area. It's like a rolling store and the residents can go right up the ramp and shop inside.
People had recommended that we just give each resident a gift card and make it easy on ourselves. Gift cards are great sometimes, but we wanted to make sure the residents actually got the food delivered to them because many of them do not have transportation. The residents are so grateful. We have had many tears of joy.
In late June, when high winds and significant hail pelted the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, church members had huge branches down around their homes, damaging roofs and fences; were cleaning up debris and water coming into living rooms; and had garage doors, shutters, and porches damaged by hail and wind.
Iglesia Cristiana (Discipulos de Cristo), Laredo TX, had significant roof damage and leaks at the church. They have received estimates for repairs that are well beyond their financial means to resolve the issue. Work has been done by church members and volunteers - some coming from as far as Arlington - a bit at a time, working mostly on Saturdays, and quickly depleting the funds they have been able to raise.
Connecting through the bilingual staff of the Christian Church in the Southwest and Week of Compassion, congregational leader Felipe Cobos told a bit of the church’s story and offered immense gratitude for the congregational solidarity grant that will allow them to move a few more steps forward:
We are so grateful for the gift you’ve given us. We have been faithfully rebuilding on Saturdays, even if it is hot, you know how we are, no nos quitamos, and we help each other. We as a church become closer together during hardship - it brings us back together to continue the ministry that Jesus began, which we do with all our heart. When our pastor died in 2021, we didn’t have spiritual guidance or leadership; our new pastor continues to hold us together, and receiving these funds feels like support from the whole church, along with the members of our church volunteering to help make repairs, just to continue our ministry here in Laredo.
Serving on behalf of the whole church, Week of Compassion relies on the strength and depth of partnerships and collegial relationships, and the generosity of individuals and congregations. Such faithfulness makes solidarity and community real, and brings the whole church together to respond to each community’s need. Week of Compassion is grateful to serve with and empower Disciples in caring for their communities in such meaningful and life-giving ways.
download a PDF of the July 6 email update
Volunteers make a difference in survivors' lives by working alongside communities recovering and moving toward a new normal. Come to Florida! Be a part of this meaningful work of bringing hope and embodying Christ's love. All skill levels welcomed. Great for participants 18 and over who enjoy hands-on service and the chance to work with others to strengthen communities.
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