This month is Disaster Preparedness month. You will find another great resource here: Disaster Resiliency (PDF) written by Judy O'Donnell. And we have seen that resilience unfold as the news covered the explosions and fires from an over-pressurized gas line in Andover, North Andover, and Lawrence.
You home is supposed to be your place of rest, escape, safety, and renewal. It is hard to describe the disruption of psyche and soul when you are forced to evacuate because your home has become a hazard to your health. It’s hard to describe the fear and worrying about where you will stay, what will happen to your treasured belongings and memories and whether your family members and friends found a way to safety.
And, yet, the human soul is resilient. We express our frustration. We name our fears. And we pull together to support each other.
This past week I have witnessed that support going out to our churches, clergy and neighbors in Andover, North Andover and Lawrence as the events surrounding the gas caused fires and explosions unfolded. Calls went out for help to provide spiritual care at shelters, and practical care for the overnight necessities that were left behind when homes were evacuated. Calls went out for Spanish speaking translators and places to house the thousands who could not return to their homes. And people responded from our churches and throughout our region - including those folks who were themselves displaced from their homes and churches.
Our Disaster Response and Resource Team for our Conference reached out to friends and response partners within the region. Our Conference staff connected with clergy and church leaders. The love of Christ was manifest in the moment. I am impressed and grateful to all those who responded and to all those who called, texted and emailed with offers to help.
Sunday morning some churches combined worship services to accommodate those whose churches were still inaccessible. The Rev. Katrina Wuensch, preaching at West Parish to her congregation and their siblings of South Church Andover, reminded us of the words of Rev. Mr Rogers: “Look for the helpers.” They were there in Andover, North Andover, and Lawrence. They were there in your prayers, caring, and offers of assistance.
And they will continue to be. Folks have been allowed back into their homes and churches. Electricity is restored, but gas is not. Some have lost possessions, some have lost homes. All have lost a little of their security in what they call home. Our Conference will continue our support to clergy and churches and through them to the surrounding communities. We’ll keep you updated on ongoing needs as they emerge. If you want to help in these efforts your donation is most welcome. You can donate here. All funds we receive will be used in and through our churches for the spiritual, emotional and practical recovery of folks within disaster impacted areas of our Conference.
And as the remnants of Hurricane Florence make their way through New England, we are seeing the flooding and wind damage that has inundated much of the Carolinas. Our National UCC Disaster Ministries is already working with the local Conference and churches and partners to provide relief services and plan long term recovery. The same is true as the super typhoon makes its way through the Philippines and China. You can learn more and make donations to these national and international disasters at our national UCC Disaster Ministry website.
And again, thank you. It is the love and grace of God in you that makes resilience possible.
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