A Letter from Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins, General Minister and President, Regarding the Recent Flooding and Storms
“You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.'”
In these last weeks, God’s care has indeed been the shelter and fortress for many as wind has howled and water risen. Ten days ago, in just a few hours, torrential rains brought flooding to Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky, including to many Disciples. In the last several days a seasonal outbreak of tornadoes has brought death and destruction to Oklahoma and Kansas.
Now that the skies have cleared and the waters are beginning to recede, we mourn the deaths more than 30 people and the loss of scores of homes and offices, and a lifetime of people’s personal artifacts.
For those living through these events, please know that Disciples everywhere are holding you in our hearts and prayers, and have stepped in to help.
Week of Compassion, our relief, refugee and development mission fund, was immediately in contact with pastors and regional ministers providing pastoral care and solidarity grants to address immediate needs. Disciples Volunteering, part of Disciples Home Missions, is discerning ways to set up volunteer efforts to help rebuild. And Glen Stewart, our regional minister in Tennessee, is continuing to minister to Disciples across the state, even though the regional office was flooded with nearly three feet of water.
At a time when so much feels fragmented, countless people have continued to show the love of Christ to those around them. At Vine Street Christian Church in Nashville, volunteers are helping to clean out the sanctuary and other areas of the church flooded by the storms. Volunteers at Woodmont Christian Church, also in Nashville, are being matched with those in need to provide assistance. Mobile Loaves and Fishes, a social ministry based out of Woodmont, has stepped up its outreach to the homeless. Volunteers from Disciples Divinity House at Vanderbilt University, have joined with others to begin clean up at the regional office.
In times such as these, the sheltering care of God is shown through the outreach of God’s children to each other. The outpouring of help offered by churches, church people, Week of Compassion, Disciples Volunteering, and regional staff are signs of the love of God.
The flood waters will recede and communities will rebuild. God’s earth will heal. And we Disciples will continue to do our part to live out our identity of being a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world by helping to bring hope and healing to those in need.
Thanks be to God.
Sharon E. Watkins