Methodists, Mennonites, and a Neighborhood Transformed
By: Sherri Gragg
When Penny Moore’s Cypress neighborhood suffered Harvey flooding, she worked alongside an army of volunteers to muck and gut her neighbors’ homes. In less than two weeks, the work was almost complete. Just as it seemed the worst was over, Moore learned of a family in need in Bear Creek.
A Different World
“When I turned into that neighborhood, it was like a different world,” she said. Three to four feet of sewage-contaminated water had filled most of the homes in Bear Creek. Two weeks after the hurricane, the putrid mixture had yet to recede in some of the homes; streets remained impassable. Residents stood helplessly in their driveways.
As Moore and her family began to carry one family’s sodden belongings to the curb, she received another message. A family one street over was desperate for help. When Moore arrived at their home, she found a recently widowed woman attempting to tear out her own flooring while also caring for her uncle who suffered from dementia.
Moore, a member of 290 Community Church, began begging her community for help. There were those who answered the call, but she needed more. That is when she heard about the Methodists. “They said the Methodists were the gold standard of disaster recovery,” she said. Soon, Moore connected with a United Methodist congregation who shared her commitment to help the families devastated by Harvey for the long haul- Cypress UMC.
Methodists and Mennonites to the Rescue
Cypress UMC has been uniquely prepared to impact hurricane recovery in Texas. Both Senior Pastor Tony McCollum and Youth Pastor Scooter Buck have personally experienced hurricane devastation. Those experiences have enabled them to better understand how to help their community recover. As the waves of post-Harvey relief groups slowed to a trickle, Buck approached McCollum about Cypress UMC’s plans for the future. “Scooter, we are in it for the long haul,” McCollum said. “For as long as God wants us in it." It wasn’t long before Buck heard from yet another group of Christ-followers who shared Moore and Cypress UMC’s commitment to long-term restoration.
“I received a call from Raymond Burkholder. He is the head of Mennonite disaster relief organization. They have been going back to help Katrina victims for 10 years. He said if we could host them, they would come.”
It was this group of hardworking, highly skilled volunteers that Scooter directed to help Moore in Bear Creek. The Mennonites have repaired roofs, replaced the siding on homes, and hung drywall at breathtaking speed from dawn to dusk. Both Moore and Buck agree there is only one frustration- getting work to them fast enough!
Bobby and Elaine Howell are one of the families who have been blessed by the Mennonite restorations. Bobby, a recent quadriplegic, not only needed home repairs from the flood damage, but adaptations to make his home ADA compliant. The Mennonite team removed the back of the Howell’s home, and reframed it before installing new windows, and hanging fresh siding and sheet rock. They replaced the fence. Prepped tile. Painted the entire home.
Bear Creek, once lost in hopeless destruction, will rise again because God drew three groups of Christ-followers together, across denominational lines, to love and serve in His name. The financial cost of the restoration may be staggering, but the eternal impact is incalculable.