Grace and Peace Fellow St. Lukers,
I pray this finds you well and that this week has already provided you with opportunities to be a blessing to others. As I write this it is Wednesday, September 11th. A day where we remember and commemorate the 18th Anniversary of the terrorist attack in New York, at the Pentagon and in a field in Somerset County Pennsylvania. I hope each of you has taken the opportunity today to not only remember those who died but also to honor them and be grateful for our first responders (Police, EMS, Firefighters, etc.).
We are in the middle of our sermon series “God’s Vocational School” where this weekend we are thinking about the unique ways that God has created or wired us. I love the great diversity within our community and within our church. I love how we all are different and yet we all seek to love God and serve God more fully and more faithfully. I hope you can join Pastor Melissa and me in worship.
A quick note on our response to Hurricane Dorian, specifically in the Bahamas. As Pastor Jenn mentioned in last week’s Update as UMC’s in Florida we have a covenant with churches in the Bahamas and have for years. So we are using those relationships to help us understand how we can help best. If you’d like to donate to the United Methodist Committee on Relief, click here to give to international efforts, and/or click here to give to U.S. efforts.
In consulting with our mission team they shared with me that what we have learned is that there are three stages after a disaster.
Stage 1 is the Rescue stage. It is in the immediate days and following weeks and focuses on life-saving, emergency care and rescue. This stage is for the Professional First Responders to do what they are certified, equipped and trained for. In this stage, it is for us to offer, financial support and fervent prayers as we prepare our hearts for how we might help in the coming stages.
Stage 2 is the Relief & Recovery stage. This is typically in the immediate months following and concentrates on returning the community to a sense of normalcy, or as close to normalcy as feasible. These recovery efforts include getting children back to school, organizing and mobilizing communities to rebuild, and developing medium-term solutions to food, water, and sanitation difficulties. This is where highly-trained volunteers and limited in-kind donations (that are requested from the relief agencies on the ground) are needed.
Stage 3 is the Recovery & Rebuilding stage. This is typically within six months to a year after the disaster. These rebuilding efforts center on opportunities to build a more resilient community out of the disaster. This happens using long term solutions. This is where deep compassion and dignity are needed. Sadly by this time most of the world has moved on to the next thing.
So we at St. Luke’s want to remember and be a part of the healing in any way we can that is effective, sustainable, and dignified. So we will keep you posted on how we can do that best for our sisters and brothers in the Bahamas.
Grace and Peace,