Dorothy Day wrote: “To attack poverty by preaching voluntary poverty seems like madness. But again, it is direct action….To be profligate in our love and generosity, spontaneous, to cut all the red tape of bureaucracy! The more you give away, the more the Lord will give you to give. It is a growth in faith. It is the attitude of the [person] whose life of common sense and faith is integrated. To live with generosity in times of crisis is only common sense. In the time of earthquake, flood, fire, people give recklessly; even governments do this” (Quoted in Sojourners on-line magazine, (http://www.sojo.net/).
Dorothy Day, in an early chapter of her autobiography, “The Long Loneliness,” recounts her memory of the wild generosity she experienced after an earthquake in San Francisco in 1906. She wrote of people’s overwhelming care of each other, their willingness to share everything they had with their neighbors, of communities coming together for relief work. That experience of open handed sharing, she says, gave her a taste of the kingdom of God alive and well in this world. Recently, in the wake of several natural disasters, I was reminded of her story, and her encouragement to open heart, home, hand, mind, spirit, to the needs of our neighbors whether they are in Pakistan, the Gulf Coast, New Hampshire, or downtown Gloucester. God’s way is the giving way, the blessing way, the generous way.
The entry below is an excerpt from the Southeast Synod newsletter, by Elaine Schwartz from the Southeast Synod office. You will find here an update of Katrina/Rita relief efforts by Lutherans and Episcopalians. I hope you will read it, and note the food is still needed at all of the Lutheran distribution centers. I talked this morning with Amy Bearson who is the coordinator for relief at Christus Victor, a Lutheran church in Mississippi. She says they need food, and if we can’t send a truck, or think it’s too expensive to use all that gas, instead of money for food, we can send food gift cards straight to Christus Victor, in care of her. Walmart is one of the local chains. She also says they would welcome volunteers to help at Christus Victor. Their web site is worth looking at; they have organized several lines of relief, from running a shelter, to distributing food, health aids, medicine, and clothes. I hope, as well, that you will remember the victims of the Pakistan earthquake. We can contribute to all of these disaster relief efforts through Lutheran World Relief, and Lutheran Disaster Response. The situation in Pakistan is far more dire with winter approaching for refugees in the mountains. Please keep all these situations in your prayers, and ask for God’s guidance and help in directing our responses.
UPDATE FROM THE GULF COAST LUTHERAN EPISCOPAL DISASTER RESPONSE (LEDR) BY DR P MORGAN GORDY, ASSISTANT TO THE BISHOP FOR GULF COAST RECOVERY —OCTOBER 18, 2005
“How are things going? Are they getting things pretty much back to order?” This is the question I am asked by many who have not visited the Gulf Coast. I wrestle with my answer knowing that it would be
much, much, more information than anyone could anticipate. The recovery of the coast is a tremendously complicated task. And it will take a very long time. With that said, I stay amazed as people faithfully put one foot in front of the other, making every attempt to address the new and continuing problems that they face each and every day. Much progress is being made. And it is awesome to see it unfold. God is truly present in the work here.
The three major distribution points for the Southeastern Synod on the Gulf Coast are Christus Victor Lutheran Church in Ocean Springs, Ms, Bethel Lutheran Church in Biloxi, MS and Grace Lutheran Church, in conjunction with Coast Episcopal School, in Long Beach, MS. These congregations continue to grow in their outreach to repair, rebuild and support their communities. Christus Victor continues to serve as
a Red Cross Shelter with an anticipated date of closure November 1st. Amy Bearson, disaster coordinator for Christus Victor has done a great job balancing all the responsibilities of the disaster response at Christus Victor. Her staff has recently increased by three caseworkers. They will begin more intentional outreach to find housing and other resources for those that seek it as well as begin the task of walking the blocks to build the casework for the work crew that come our way.
Christus Victor, Bethel and Grace were recently gifted with a laptop with the Lutheran Disaster Response software already in place. Training has begun to get the caseworkers ready to use this software that will help us integrate all the disaster activities and facilitate the rebuilding process. This was a timely and much needed gift.
Bethel Lutheran Church has grown tremendously in outreach and in development of disaster services. Judy Bultman is the disaster coordinator for Bethel. She has done marvelous work and has established a partnership with an LCMS congregation, Good Shepherd, just down the street. They are looking at dividing the tasks, one for a work crew support ministry, the other for the work of distribution of food and goods. Both will have caseworkers. Bethel already has one caseworker trained and is hoping for another soon.
Grace has hired a caseworker/disaster coordinator who starts this week. I will work with her on Tuesday. She will be key in moving forward the outreach from Grace. The administrative secretary has also gone from part time to full time to address the disaster casework needs as well. They continue to have distribution of food and some work groups. The great news is that Pastor Barbara Hunter and her husband John, whose home was destroyed by Katrina, will be moving into their new home this Friday!!
The sites, including Coast Episcopal School, are becoming more interrelated, sharing supplies, communicating needs, networking, sharing training, etc. It is a very good thing.
Christus Victor has received approval from the county for use of a large warehouse, pending approval from the state auditor. We hope that approval will come this week. Once that is in place, the warehouse will be able to be the staging site for distribution to all our congregations as well as other partnering congregations in the community. It will also provide a much needed space for building supplies and equipment. It is hoped that we will be able to get warehouse space in Biloxi as well. We have a warehouse manager hired who begins this week.
We continue to need food sent to the coast. All four LEDR sites have been out of food much of the time. The truck loads of food have slowed dramatically and the need has not. It is a concern for many who are now jobless that soon their savings and the meager funds they have received from FEMA and Red Cross will run out. Without an income, the need for food, assistance with utility bills, and health care needs will increase dramatically, not to mention the need for adequate housing. For many housing is a small trailer or living doubled or tripled up with other friends and family members. It is not uncommon to see the same family come back for food week after week. Recovery will be slow. So we encourage anyone who can to
continue to send food.
We hope that with the addition of the caseworkers we can begin to weave together what resources there are left on the coast and get folks connected to them, but it is likely we will need to help develop these resources. Most of the community-based ministries were destroyed by Katrina.
The medical unit at Christus Victor is close to moving into the donated office space along with Coastal Family Health Services, the provider for indigent primary care on the Coast. LEDR has contracted
with Jennifer Knight, RN Coordinator at Coast Episcopal to provide for clinical coordination for all the clinics. She will work with the medical/nursing staff resource coordinator to keep the clinics staffed, as well as help Coastal Family recruit staff for their other clinics. We will be partnering with Coastal Family Health Services across the coast.
The Mississippi Coast Interfaith Disaster Task Force is now up and going. Currently, Christus Victor and Bethel are represented on the board with representation from Grace and Coast Episcopal coming soon.
I remain a part of the board as well. The task of weaving so many responses is unbelievable, but I am certain that it will happen. God has brought many to the table.
We will need volunteers for quite some time. It is impossible to say thanks for all the volunteers, pastors, and workers of many gifts and talents who have come down to bring healing to the coast. We are
blessed to work with the many folk from all over the country who bring gifts of self, money, and prayer. It is awesome work, truly the hands and heart of our Lord made visible before us. We are grateful.
God’s peace and blessings,
4. FOOD STILL NEEDED ON GULF
As mentioned in Dr Gordy’s update, there is still a need for canned foods to be sent to the Gulf. If your congregation has collected food that can be sent or wants to coordinate a food drive, please contact Amy Bearson at Christus Victor Lutheran Church at 228-282-3129. Please visit www.elca-ses.org/Katrina_recovery.htm for a list of needed items.
5. NOVEMBER VOLUNTEERS ASSIGNED
Volunteers who signed up through the synod webpage, www.elca-ses.org, for the month of November have been assigned work locations on the Gulf. We are currently accepting volunteer sign-ups for December and next year on the website. If you wish to take an adult volunteer group to the Gulf in the month of November, please contact sites directly:
BETHEL LUTHERAN CHURCH
The Rev Gerald Bultman
2521 Pass Road
Biloxi, MS 39531-2727
Office (228) 388-1226
Coordinator Judy Bultman (228) 239-8882 or (228) 617-4781
CHRISTUS VICTOR LUTHERAN CHURCH
The Rev Sigurd Arneson
2755 Bienville Boulevard
Ocean Springs, MS 39564-4312
Office (228) 875-2446
On Site Volunteer Coordinators: Roger Ratcliff and Donna Young
832-668-6135 or 303-246-0328
Disaster Response Coordinator: Amy Bearson (228) 282-3129
GRACE LUTHERAN CHURCH
The Rev Barbara Hunter
19221 Pineville Road
Long Beach, MS 39560-3315
Office (228) 864-4248
COAST EPISCOPAL SCHOOL
5065 Espy Avenue
Long Beach, Ms 39560
Contact: Diane Livingston, Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi 1-866-550-0872
6. DONATIONS BOUND FOR ASCENSION, JACKSON BEING RE-ROUTED
Ascension Lutheran Church, Jackson, MS, requests all those who are currently sending items for Hurricane Katrina recovery to to Ascension to read the following.
Donated items currently being sent to Ascension Lutheran Church in Jackson are being accepted and then re-shipped to the relief locations listed above. Ascension currently must provide financing to transport items or spend considerable effort arranging volunteer transportation to the sites, which are over 150 miles from Jackson. To avoid transportation delays, further donations should be taken or sent directly to the relief locations on the MS coast. Before shipping items to the relief centers listed above, PLEASE call the centers first so they can arrange to have enough volunteers on-hand to unload the truck. You may send by UPS or FedEx.
For a current list of items needed, consult:
Check back regularly for updates as needs are changing.
Clothing needs have been met for the time being and some centers refuse to accept clothing. The only clothing that is needed right now is NEW, packaged socks and underwear (all sizes) and NEW infant
clothing. The best thing to do with any other donated clothing is to send it to your local Goodwill or Salvation Army. Both of these organizations will make good use of used clothing.
As you prepare items to send, try to pre-pack for a family-of-four. This makes it easier for relief workers to distribute and does not require as much work to sort!
7. ASSISTING MINISTERS FOR PASTORAL CARE STILL NEEDED
The Southeastern Synod office is currently working to place Assisting Ministers for Pastoral Care. We are seeking rostered persons who will be appointed by Bishop Warren, deployed to the congregations of
the devastated areas for no less than 1-2 weeks and under local supervision by the congregational pastor. This is a non-salaried position, but reasonable expenses will be recompensed with receipts. Any pastors, associates in ministry, diaconal ministers, or deaconesses interested in this position should contact Jeanette Burgess, Southeastern Synod Administrative Liaison for Leadership at 404-589-1977 ext 232 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I will be out of the office until November 1, 2005 on vacation. If you need assistance regarding Hurricane Katrina relief during that time, please contact Liz Linke in the synod office at 404-589-1977, ext 220 or email@example.com.
ELCA-Southeastern Synod Director of Communication Resources
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