St. Luke’s Counts their Harvey Blessings
By: Sherri Gragg
Hurricane Harvey’s destruction was heartbreaking, but St. Luke’s UMC has witnessed God’s blessings too.
As church members have cried, prayed, and served together, God has drawn them closer to each other. During the first two weeks post-Harvey, St. Luke’s lay leaders called more than 4,500 people to check on them. On September 8th, they will call 300 of those once again to let them know they are not alone in their continued recovery.
In the early days of recovery, when few volunteer teams could make it into Houston because of flooding, one church was unstoppable- Broadmore UMC from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Broadmore UMC descended on the campus of St. Luke’s with volunteers, three tractor trailers of supplies, and their leadership team ready to show St. Luke’s how to go forward. Broadmore UMC’s outstanding generosity so impressed St. Luke’s that they turned the church’s name into a rallying cry- “Be the Broadmore!”
St. Luke’s relationship with Broadmore UMC began in 2016 when they sent a team to help during the Louisiana flooding. According to St. Luke’s Director of Outreach, Alice King, St. Luke’s volunteers learned an important lesson in hospitality during their stay. “When we went there, folks from church insisted on us staying in their homes. They did our laundry. Their Bishop had dinner with us,” said King. “Broadmore UMC taught us in a major way how to be hospitable. When teams come here to serve, we want them to know we are thankful that they are coming to our town as the hands and feet of Jesus.”
As St. Luke’s continues to help Houston recover from Harvey, they are also doing all they can to be ready to respond quickly during the next disaster. One important component of that was to compile everything they learned while serving during Harvey into a Disaster Relief Guide. The guide is process oriented and includes everything from the forms they created during Harvey to the scripts they wrote for volunteers to use when they called people. Churches and organizations interested in using the guide may download it for free at
Since Harvey, St. Luke’s has learned how to more effectively minister in times of disaster. They have prepared a list of assessors and team leaders who ready to hit the ground running the next time they are needed. The church is already better serving Harvey victims by employing case workers to assess individual needs. “Needs can be complicated,” King said, “one person may need eyeglasses where another might benefit from assistance in meeting their car payment. We try to help individually.”
Additionally, St. Luke’s will partner with Houston Volunteer Lawyers this October to host free legal clinics for Harvey victims on the St. Luke’s Gethsemane campus.
St. Luke’s has also begun looking for ways to minister to the mental health needs of those impacted by Harvey. When people call the church seeking mental health assistance, they refer them to the Nick Finnegan Counseling Center. If the individual already has an established therapist, the church is available to help them with payments so that they can get the help they need.
“Mental health is a huge need in good times,” King said, “In times like Harvey, those needs are only exacerbated. We are looking to see what mental health disaster ministry looks like.”