Contributions Ease the Wildfire Recovery Process
Even during a time when many churches and church members are feeling the squeeze of unemployment, market losses, price increases, and other stresses of a difficult economy, the people of the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church faithfully give when disaster strikes. When wildfires raged against Texas forests and homeowners this summer, individuals across the conference responded with their pocketbooks.
The special offering taken across the conference to help wildfire victims has already yielded funds of over $183,479.59 to help churches help restore families and individuals devastated by the summer fires. “When disaster strikes, I can predict the response of the people in our conference in two words: extravagantly generous,” says Rev. Diane McGeehee, Missional Excellence Director. According to McGeehee, grants are already being distributed to churches to feed, shelter and clothe victims and relief workers. Funds have also been used to:
· purchase and install utilities poles to restore water and electrical services
· purchase or lease gas-powered generators so that functional water wells can be restarted
· pay for well services to repair the water wells which have melted and collapsed
· move donated mobile homes onto cleared land allowing families to move from temporary housing back to their own property
· fuel church and other transportation vehicles to operate around the clock shuttling victims, donations, and supplies and making site visits to assist in damage and needs assessments
· establish relocation and assistance centers such as the one located in the fellowship hall of Linden United Methodist Church.
“People from across the conference also continue to give extravagantly with collections of supplies, food, water, equipment,” adds McGeehee, “and time to sort, collect and deliver.” Rev. Allen Van Hooser, pastor of First UMC Teague is thankful for the grant money and the assistance that his church and community has received. “David Brooks and the Mission Committee of FUMC Houston sent a truck with furniture, supplies and food for the Freestone and Limestone Fire Victims,” Van Hooser reports. “This is a direct result of our TACCOR mission and relationships. Praise to God and blessings to all of my TACCOR colleagues. “On behalf of the conference, I want to thank you for all of these gestures,” says McGeehee. “Many of you even attended ERT training in late September so that you could be ready to respond to the cleanup effort for thousands of homes. Others attended UMCOR’s CARE most recent training to better prepare to provide spiritual care in responding to victims of disasters. Your generosity is touching lives and bringing hope. Thank you for serving Christ with such compassion and grace. God is doing great things in and through us!”
If your church is working with wildfire victims and is in need of financial or other assistance, contact your District Superintendent with the need, the proposed response, and the cost. Your district superintendent can work with you to submit a request to the Conference Office for an assistance grant or to obtain other assistance through volunteers or donations.