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A Testimony from the Hurricane Florence Relief Efforts
God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble
by Rev. Edward Davis (D.Min.)
SOC-UCC Conference Minister
Burlington / October 5, 2018
It never ceases to amaze me how God shows up in the most unusual places and circumstances.
The other day a small delegation of members of the Southern Conference set out to visit our sister churches in Wilmington and Beaufort, NC. These congregations had been hit very hard by the storm, Hurricane Florence. The Conference office had been in touch with these congregations and their pastors. And, it was felt that since the waters had receded and we were able to get into that area, that we should now travel there to listen, offer a word of hope and encouragement, and bring provisions to meet the needs of some of the members within these local churches. As we traveled, our first stop was to pick up one of the members of the delegation, in Fayetteville, NC, but nothing could prepare us for what was to come after leaving Burlington. The church van that was donated to us by Union Chapel, UCC to use on our journey, began losing the air conditioning and power steering. Suddenly the van came to a complete stop and lost power. However, by the grace of God, and by chance, it stopped in front of a Firestone auto facility....
Gregory UCC is the site where the historical event of The Wilmington 10 took place. They had sustained severe water damage that had turned into mold, in the sanctuary, the steeple, and on the floors. Large trees had fell and timber laid in front of the church. We were met by a delegation of members who received us well and shared their stories. It was a moving event because we were able to, not only listen, but provide needed provisions for those members who were unable to enter into their homes. After listening, sharing, and praying with the members we traveled to Beaufort, NC to visit with our other sister church, St. Stephens UCC.
When we arrived, at least 20 or more members were waiting patiently to hear words of encouragement and hope. They too had suffered severe damage to the fellowship hall and parts of the sanctuary, as well as in their own homes....
UCC SOC RECOVERY EFFORTS GEAR UP WHILE WAITING FOR THE WATERS TO SUBSIDE
Late last week the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Lesli Remaly-Netter made a request for chaplains then later also crisis counselors to staff Disaster Recovery Centers in the Hurricane Florence affected areas of North Carolina. Due to the persistence of high water FEMA has not yet been able to identify where Disaster Recovery Centers will be placed and when they will open. The request was made on the daily conference call of the North Carolina Voluntary Agencies Active in Disaster (NCVOAD) Emotional and Spiritual Care Task Force which the UCC SOC Conference Disaster Ministries Coordinator was invited to Moderate by NCVOAD President Ann Huffman.
In response to this request, the Southern Conference put out a text request to all clergy across the Southern Conference and Conference Disaster Coordinator Jon Wallace sent an email to our Fellowship Disaster Partners the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) NCDisciples, the UCC and the Presbyterian Church USA to alert them. Notification was also sent to United Church Homes which has a number of clergy and social workers as residents. To date more than a dozen UCC and Disciples of Christ clergy have called in to volunteer with more expected.
These efforts dovetail Conference Minister Reverend Dr. Edward Davis request that clergy and lay people across the conference be identified who may wish to volunteer in a variety of needed areas in the months ahead. “Whether responding to requests from partner agencies or serving as chaplain support to Southern Conference clergy and lay volunteers working on rebuilding efforts and other ministries to come, the United Church of Christ Southern Conference has outstanding personnel, facilities, and skills within our own conference with capabilities to respond immediately and effectively” states Reverend Dr. Davis.
Request for Chaplains for FEMA for Hurricane Florence Recovery Areas
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has a need for a chaplain to staff a Disaster Recovery Center. Right now its one but it could be many more.
This is an official request for the Fellowship Disaster Partners:
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
NC Disciples of Christ
Presbyterian Church USA
United Church of Christ. ALL Assocations
United Church Homes
PLEASE IDENTIFY CHAPLAINS AVAILABLE NOW AND IN THE COMING WEEKS WHO COULD STAFF FEMA DISASTER RECOVERY CENTERS. These would primarily be in the eastern part of the state.
1) At least 1 unit of Clinical Pastoral Education
2) Denominational endorsement
3) At least three years service as a Chaplain or Community Clergy member
4) Available for one to three weeks deployment (negotiable)
Other specifications will be developed as needed. This is a critical request that has just been made.
SOUTHERN CONFERENCE DISASTER MINISTRIES
500 EMERGENCY CLEAN-UP BUCKETS
AN ALL CHURCH RESPONSE TO HURRICANE FLORENCE
Prayer for Hurricane Florence by Rev. Eddie Weathers
Heavenly Father, Your word tells us there is strength in unity in the body of Christ. You say where 2 or 3 are gathered in Your name that You would be there in the midst of them. We speak hope, strength, courage and protection of each one affected this hurricane. Draw people closer to You, and closer to each other. We thank you for the outpouring of support and provision from so many for each one. We thank You for our first responders, many of them had to leave their families to care for other. Keep them safe, well and healthy. We thank You that You are there with everyone, revealing Your love and power. Give us the vision and patience to live and labor faithfully though this season of response is recovery. As we clean up and rebuild, give us your joy and peace. This is our petition, in Jesus name, Amen.
More Articles & Helpful Information
On Hurricane Disaster Info & E-News Pages Here on Our Website
As we wait…...
May the light of God surround you; may the love of God enfold you; may the power of God protect you; and, may the presence of God watch over you; always remembering wherever you are and whatever state you are in, God is!
A Disaster Prayer from SOC Conference Minister Rev. Dr. Davis
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help and trouble” (Psalm 46:1)
Brothers and Sisters of the Southern Conference, once again we are facing an impending threat of disaster within our setting. Hurricane Florence is coming our way with the threat of destroying homes, businesses, ministries and most of all inflicting suffering on humanity. However, I believe, as most of you do, in the power of prayer. My faith teaches me that the God we serve has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. He has promised that when we go through the fire that we will not be consumed. This storm is our fire and we will not be consumed. Like all the other challenges and tragedies that we have experienced in our lives and in our ministries, we can declare that “this too shall pass,” and we shall get through it.
So, I say to you, let us reflect upon the words of the Psalmist in this passage that says, “God is our refuge and yes, our strength.” God will be our help in this time of trouble. We shall be strong and of good courage knowing that the God who has brought us over the past hills and valleys of our lives will continue to lead us on. Join with me as we lift to God our collective prayer:
For those who may be injured in this storm, Lord hear our prayer. For the families who may be displaced, Lord hear our prayer.
For the homes and properties that may be damaged or destroyed in this storm, Lord hear our prayer. For the churches and sanctuaries that may be destroyed, Lord hear our prayer.
For the first responders and those who put themselves in harm’s way, Lord hear our prayer. For the men and women who will volunteer to care for those in need, Lord hear our prayer.
For the shelters and schools and sanctuaries that will provide safety and security, Lord hear our prayer. For those who will contribute their personal resources, Lord hear our prayer.
For the leaders who will make the disbursements to repair and to rebuild, Lord hear our prayer. For the loved ones who worry about family and friends, Lord hear our prayer.
For the State of North Carolina and Virginia and the victims who are still recovering from Hurricane Matthew, Lord hear our prayer. And to all of us who put our faith, hope and trust in you O’ God, Lord hear our prayer.
Southern Conference United Church of ChristConference Faces Question of "OWNING" the Mission of "Our Churches Wider Mission"
The Conference hopes congregations -- during each church's 2019 budget drafting process -- will re-examine their level of support of Our Churches Wider Mission and stretch with a mindset of second mile giving. An initiative by "Friends of the Conference" also has the potential to make a BIG difference. Ponder the portion of her income represented by the widow who put forth two small coins. (Mark 12:41-44)
Checks can be sent to the Southern Conference UCC, 252B West Fifth Street, Burlington, NC 27215, and earmarked as "contribution."
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